by Jayne Thickett
When they thought they’d found her, she’d been missing for seventy-five years. Her body was wonderfully preserved, the plane almost intact. They’ll never know it isn’t her, no matter what their science tells them. For what is a body without its ego, its id, its soul?
We watched as man first took to the skies in their mechanical birds. We smiled with the amusement of a parent watching their child pretend to drive a train or ride a horse. But these new children of the skies did not grow up and leave their toys behind. Instead, they brought their bickering and destruction to our clouds.
We lived in peace. The air was our natural home. They left us no choice when they came with their bullets and bombs. We went to war, to keep the clouds safe for our children. It pained us, the things we did in the name of love. For were men like these not the fathers of our children?
Centuries have passed since boy children were born to us. We do not know why this came to be. Perhaps, in the end, it was their beauty that killed our men. While we hunted the smaller raptors which shared our skies, and repaired the fabric of our homes, while we schooled our children in the hunt and the secrets of the elements, while we taught them to read the wind, their fathers preened their wings. Their bright plumage was their vanity, and their feathers grew long and ornate, like those of the peacock. They shimmered with turquoises and umbers. They dazzled one another with their displays until the day dawned when even a hurricane could not hold them aloft. One by one they fell to earth, like so many Icaruses, leaving us behind with our drab, utilitarian wings.
Built for efficiency though we were, able to float on the mildest of zephyrs, procreation was not within our means. And so, swallowing our pride, we dove to earth. One flutter of our compact wings could bewitch a human man, and we lay with them in the mountains and the valleys, and our bellies grew heavy with children once more, though no boys were ever born.
But our daughters feel no affinity for these monsters of men who fill our skies with death and pollute our clouds with stinking contrails. Our children are true aviatrixes, fierce protectors of the heavens. It was they who brought us the news of her. Amelia. A kindred soul.
We surveyed her triumphs and failures. We witnessed her ridiculed by puff-chested men, reminiscent of our foolish husbands. We bore her pain.
Amelia saw what war did to the human body, and turned from its horror. She tended the wounded with the same respect she paid to the skies.
It is not our place to intervene in the affairs of humans, and so when she determined to fly around the world, we shook our heads with sorrow. But it was a sadness tinged with expectation.
Her metallic winged box was ill-equipped for the task. The mistakes of men are often simple, but devastatingly so. We followed her descent, our children chattering and singing songs, as though we were on a hunt.
Observing her through the little window, we saw the light dying in her eyes, her essence snaking from her mouth and nose like tendrils of smoke.
“Join us, Amelia,” we chimed as one. “Come with us to the skies.”
The light in her eyes burned bright when she nodded her assent, and we entered the metal contraption and rescued her essence. We carried it back to the sky, where she was birthed again, on the wind, borne aloft on pearlescent wings.
Amelia became our fiercest champion, no flesh and bones hampered her cause. Once, she was a pacifist, but what mother would not kill to protect her children? What matriarch would not wield her authority for such a cause? She became mother to us all, and determined to defeat any who threatened our paradise, regardless of insignia or standard.
She has circled the globe many more times than she once dared to envisage. Each time she returns, her wings sing with the light of her joy. Amelia will fly forever, and she will guard the skies when our children are long gone from this world.
They can take her remains home now, and lay her empty shell to rest, with all the pomp and pageantry their hypocritical souls can invent. They, who dismissed her as nothing more than a puppet pilot. She is not theirs.
Amelia is not there.
Jayne Thickett is a thirty-nine year old home schooling mum and learning disability support worker.
She has had several pieces published in the small presses and is finally making headway with the novel that started with a very strange dream almost ten years ago.
Reading is her first love, writing comes next and there isn't a lot of time for much else.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Things that Fly'
'On a Wing and a Prayer'