Wings (Flash Fiction)

The afternoon breeze was a lethargic whisper and barely stirred the unseasonably warm air. Susanne’s white t-shirt clung to the sweat on her back. She shielded her eyes. “Please come down.”

Bob made no motion to acknowledge her words.

In the distance, she could hear the cars zooming by on the freeway. So many lives attending to mundane things, so many aspects being taken for granted. She found herself envying the comfort of false security. “Bob, please. I don’t know what to do anymore. You’re scaring me.”

Bob stayed perched on his rock. He was on his feet, cradled into a fetal position with his arms wrapped around his knees. The rocky canyon floor waited for him below.

“What do you want?” she pleaded. She could feel the heat of the rocks soaking through her thin shoes. “I don’t know how to help you.”

“I want to fly,” he said. “I want to grow wings and leave. Just tear off the weight of this skin and let a million feathers carry me away.”

Cars from the highway dashed in and out of sight. Susanne caught the glimpse of a tan minivan. She pictured the family that could be driving it. It was a family she knew she’d never have. “I don’t understand this game,” she said. “You bring me out here, you stand on your edge, and you insist I talk you down.” She wiped at the sweat on her neck. “It’s not fair.”

Bob’s head craned around. A strange look filled his eyes. “Don’t you want me to live?” he asked.

“I do,” she said. She looked out over the rocky canyon. A narrow river snaked its way through the bottom. “I’m beginning to wonder if you actually want to die.” She looked back at his eyes and caught his glare. “Every time you do this, every time you drag me along, you put me on that rock with you. Do you want me to jump instead?”

Bob’s glare grew more intense. His forehead gleamed and his hair was wet with sweat. Susanne took the car keys from her pocket and rolled them in her hand. “I’m leaving,” she said.

“What?” Bob asked.

“You can fly if you want to.” She looked to the cars passing by on the highway. “But I’m coming down from your ledge. I’m driving away instead.”

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