a wee fic about claire novak, inspired by photo above.
the first set you make from the guts of one of your pillows and brokebent wire hangers: they collapse the first time you try them on.
you bite your lip and then your hand to keep from crying too loud, to keep your mom from hearing. because you know that she wouldn’t understand. she’d think you were doing it to hurt her, to make her sad, and you’re not, really. you’re not.
you miss him, too.
but this is for you.
the second pair are sturdier and they stay snug on your back and settle, push at something between your shoulder blades that suddenly feels whole and complete. black feathers this time, shoplifted from the craft store, careful, bag after bag, once a week for a month until the bottom drawer of your dresser is full. but the feathers, they keep finding their way out, is the thing, and you wake up with one stuck to your cheek and another in your fist and you say hi dad.
so this second pair is better, they feel right on your body, but when you look in the mirror you see this weird collage, like the one you made for andrew james when you still thought he was cute, except instead of hearts trailing one into the other you see your face and your dad’s and his smashed together, lips eyes grace like melted crayons and it’s ugly. it hurts.
the wings still aren’t right.
still aren’t yours.
the third pair you make in summer, in the woods behind the house where your mom’s staked her claim for a while. she’s been wearing one of your dad’s shirts for a week and not really talking and so you’re glad when it finally stops raining, when the sun breaks hot and bright and you can push through the trees on your own.
she doesn’t stop you.
you think you’re wandering but when you fall into the clearing, you know you’re being led. your heart slows down and your breathing gets deep and you go right to the saplings, strip branch after branch and build, your hands working without you telling and it feels good to be led like that.
when they’re done, it’s almost evening and the sunset cuts clear to your eyes. so you turn your back and pick up the wings–your wings now; nobody else’s–and, just for a moment, you fly.