I date a man who has wings; a man who can fly.
“I’ll set you up with a pair and we’ll travel together,” he says. “I want to show you the world.”
Faint remnants of exotic places he’s visited cling to him. He smells of green grass and treetops, of apples and walnuts, of pinecones and snow, of ocean and sand.
When he wraps his arms around me, I hear the rattle of wings as I nestle in the cloak of feather- warmth. I listen to his heart under my ears, more rapid than mine, reassuring in its strength and pace.
He gazes into my eyes, and I’m swept into their sharp, intense brilliance.
Sometimes unwelcome thoughts arise―a yearning for arms with warm skin, a wish for a sharp knock on the door instead of a swooping entry through the window. I run my fingers through the rich plumage and remind myself of what attracted me in the first place.
As promised, he brings me wings. They’re in the colors of a peacock’s feathers, iridescent turquoise, blue, and navy.
“You’ll be gorgeous in the sky,” he says and takes me out to the mountaintop on a sunny day. “Come,” he says. “Fly with me.”
He lifts and flaps the broad span of his wings. “Like this,” he says, and his feet float off the ground. “Follow me!” The words drift in the wind.
I flap and jump, flap and jump; I cannot defy gravity.
When I look up, he’s soaring in the distance, his shadow an oblong patch on the side of the mountain.
I dance, wings shimmering on my back. He won’t turn around.
If he ever returns, I can tell him what I now know—peacocks are the male of the species; they cannot fly distances.
Sudha Balagopal’s short fiction appears in, or is scheduled to appear in, Split Lip Magazine, Lunate Fiction, Bangor Literary Magazine, Pidgeonholes and Vestal Review among other journals. She is the author of a novel, A New Dawn. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fiction and appears in the Wigleaf Top 50, 2019.