This piece is based off of SparrowSoaring’s prompt from the second day of SPW. It took me a while to finish it, despite its length, it was a challenge because I rarely write in past-tense. However, I think I like the way it turned out!
The Girl of the Reeds
The glass globe pulsed as she picked it up. It burned her hand, and she flung it as far away from her as she could. A red light swirled across the surface of the globe as it spun through the air and she jumped to her feet to follow. She crashed through the trees and shoved branches to the side as the globe spun faster. It fell off of the side of the cliff and she followed it with a yell that echoed across the canyon.
Her wings snapped open behind her and yanked her into an updraft. She yelled again and snapped the globe out of the air in front of her. It did not take long for her to coast down to the bottom of the canyon. She raced her shadow to her home in the underbrush and giggled as she set the globe on her lap.
She grew older in that one moment: her hands became wrinkled with age and her wings sagged behind her. She rubbed her fingers across the surface of the globe and muttered to herself.
The setting sun turned the globe a dusty pink. She held it up to her face with trembling hands. The globe glowed as the sun sank out of sight. The reed roof of her house cast shadows on her hundred-year-old face. She set the globe down next to her and prepared a small meal with inching fingers.
She collapsed underneath the weight of the night and stared at a colony of fireflies across the canyon. The world would turn and change without her.
She pressed her face into the dirt as feathers fell from her wings. She was a thousand years old by the time the clocks in nearby towns struck midnight; but she grew younger with each hour that reached into the morning.
She was six by the time the sun rose. The globe lay next to her on the faded grass floor of her house. She shook her newly feathered wings and took off into the cold air. A down drift swept her forward as soon as she reached the edge of the canyon.
Her bare feet landed on the dusty ground and she stared toward the west. The tops of skyscrapers were barely visible above an outline of trees miles from the other side of the canyon. She folded her wings against her back and started to run. She did not stop until she was gasping for breath and her cheeks were red.
She climbed an old oak at the edge of a narrow dirt road and hid herself among the browning leaves. A muddy antique truck rumbled down the road and stopped underneath her hiding place.
The man that climbed out was half-bald with the beginnings of a mustache. He limped around the truck and pulled a thin wire cage out of the bed. The bird inside it flapped in fear and the man cooed to it. He placed the cage at the bottom of the tree and went back to the bed of the truck to unload the rest of the cages.
The base of the oak was surrounded by the time the man was done. He brushed his hands across the front of his overalls and nodded to himself as he carefully undid the latches for each of the cages.
He stepped back as the birds started to explore their new worlds. Dust was swept off of the ground as the birds took off and the silent desert became a rough concert.
The man watched for a moment before climbing back into his sputtering truck and driving away.
She waited until he was gone to climb out of the oak tree. The birds were already gone; she walked back to the edge of the canyon with her wings creating trails in the dust behind her.
She dangled her legs off of the edge of the canyon and pulled an oversized blanket across her to hide her wings. A thousand years is a long time to live. She was twenty again by the time the sun way halfway across the sky and tourists started to arrive. They laughed and argued and took pictures and started into the canyon. She always found their clean cars and bright clothes comical.
They always stared into the canyon as though they were looking into the past and wondering if it was going to stuck them up. She supposed that maybe it would. The tourists always left before sunset. They always missed the most beautiful parts of the day. But they never had enough time to look into the canyon for long. They always had a plane to catch or a party to go to or a motel bar that would close just before they reached it.
They never stayed for long; and she would find herself back where she started to previous day. The only difference would be the empty cages left at the base of an old oak tree a marathon away.
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