On a good day, the sky was a daisy, with it’s petals of clouds blooming out from the pollen covered sun. On a bad day, the sky was scorched stone, greyness mixing with the darkness of charred thunder and lightning.
On a good day, Javen can stretch his wings out, and almost imagine that his wings are glowing. But he doesn’t have to imagine that Feren’s wings are shining, because they are. Shining in every shade of blue, from the deepest navy to the vivid color of the sky. His brother will laugh and let Javen touch his feathers, and then fly. Fly up to the tree tops and spin and twirl. He takes Javen with him on some days. On a bad day Javen stares at his wings, and wishes that they were different. Sometimes he wants them to be another color, any color but white. But most days he just wishes that they would work.
On a good day Feren takes him outside to look at the sky. They sit in the meadow together, in the midst of overgrown ivy and grass. Imagining that the dark sky is bright and sparkling. And Feren tell him about another world, where people fly without wings, and the sky is full of shooting stars. Where wishes are made everyday and sometime they come true. And it’s those nights that Javen dreams, dreams about that other world. A world where he can fly too.
On a bad day they stay inside. Those nights Javen pretends that he can’t hear the loud voices through his bedroom door. He looks out his window, and hates the sky for hiding Feren’s hope. For being selfish and hiding the stars.
As time goes on, those two days tend to blend together. And then it’s everyday that Javen stares at his wings. It’s everyday that he is hiding in his room. Everyday that he wishes Feren had his stars. But it’s also everyday that Feren will fly for him. Everyday that Feren is with him, and the meadow is always there.
Feren keeps telling him stories. Sometimes they are about the other world, but sometimes they’re about their own world. Javen loves those stories, because no one else can tell them like his brother. No one else tells him about falling.
And it’s definitely a good day when they can spend the night under the sky, with the moon shining brightly down on them. And it’s on those days when he thinks about airplanes and stars and smiles. Those days where he can forget.
Feren never forgets. Javen can see it in his eyes, his words, his feathers. With every bad night Feren’s light flickers, dims.
Then one night, it doesn’t.
One night, one spark, and the light becomes a fire. And it rages beyond anything Javen has ever seen. Beyond anything anyone has seen.
Javen runs after Feren. Reaches for the blue wings. He’s done it a million times, under a million skies on a million meadows. He misses. He’s never missed. And the blue wings, attached to his brother, shoot up into the sky.
Javen wants to run and scream and cry. But there’s no one around, no one but him to see Feren. No one who sees anything other than a little kid watching the sky. And then Feren is gone, and in his place a streak of color. Bright and vivid, like Feren’s wings but the wrong color. It’s orange and red and yellow. It’s Feren’s shooting star, burning as bright as the center of the sky’s daisy. And in that moment, it becomes Javen’s star too.
(He goes back to the meadow later, and picks up every feather he can find.)
Javen loses count of how many days pass by. His nights are full of grey stones and smoke-filled air. He isn’t sure whether to cry or laugh the first time his dreams show him airplanes again.
Somedays he doesn’t want to go outside, ignoring the openness of the sky. Somedays Javen doesn’t want to go outside and pretend that in his head he is nothing more than a feather in the wind. Days where everything is a blur of ever moving color, that never stops. When he can’t breathe and can’t think and can’t find anything to hold onto because it’s all moving too fast.
Javen wonders if anyone noticed. If anyone noticed the way his hands shake as he tries to keep the balance. His mind swells and dips with his moods. The cap is barely on, any movement able to knock it off.
Javen is flying. His wide wingspan pushes him upwards, reaching for the sky. The openness a blessing to the curse of being grounded.
And Javen watches, watches as the people scramble down below. watches as they scream and cry. Watches as the air around him scorches and burns. His wings are pinned to his side as he falls, the metal feathers grating against his skin. But even as the sky tilts, turning black, Javen can’t help the bubble of warmth inside his chest. It grows and spreads, engulfing him like the flames licking his wings. And in the corner of his mind he suddenly remembers another day.
Javen remembers Feren, his shooting star. And in the corner of his mind a neuron sends an impulse. His wings snap open, feathers barely visible through the fire. And he falls.
(That’s what he feels like when he wakes up too.)