Manifesting Air

“I think you’re done,” Alta said, standing up and tipping back her cap. She let her goggles drop from her eyes and dangle from her neck so she could get a clear view of her work.Céline couldn’t see behind her, of course, but she slid off the worktable and landed on her feet, all too aware of the newfound weight on her back. Yes, the wings were light, lighter than she had thought possible, but they were still there. She stretched, spreading her arms and arching her back, and she felt the wings move as well.

“Careful!” Alta yelled as she stepped back. “There’s not that much room in here. Why don’t you head outside? You can practice charming them.”

It seemed like the safest plan, so Céline did as she suggested and headed outside. Alta’s workshop was on the edge of town, practically in the woods, and the townspeople liked to pretend she wasn’t there when they weren’t coming to her for help. In the six months Céline had lived there, working around the garden and the lab to earn her keep, she’d gotten used to the townspeople creeping up during the shadows of dusk.

Tonight the sunset through the humid ocean clouds looked as if it were the forest itself on fire. Céline stretched again, this time willing her wings to follow. They were slow to respond – not surprising, since the muscles and nerves that controlled them were entirely new at their jobs. Alta had warned her that there was no telling how long it would take her mind to get used to them, since all of tinkerer’s previous experience had been with limbs that were simply missing, not new.

Céline hadn’t known how to explain that she knew exactly how wings should feel, that she knew the same phantom sensations that Alta had spoken of her more traditional clients having. She felt the wind curl around her fingers, and she practiced urging it to curl around the metal feathers as well.

Still, inclined not to take unnecessary risks, Céline spent another week wedded to the earth, stretching and flapping and generally proving to herself that she was just as capable of controlling them as she’d always expected she would be.

Finally, though, she could take it no more.”Céline? What are you doing?” Alta asked the next morning as she caught Céline climbing a ladder to the top of the roof.

“Seems a terrible shame to have wings and not use them,” Céline called down. There was a stiff wind out of the north and she heard her name on it.

“You’re just meant to be getting used to them!”

Céline spread her wings, facing into the wind. She sang back the song the air was calling, and it sprang up faster, wrapping around her. The wind held her like a lover, pulling her up almost before she stepped off the edge. She beat her wings and curled her fingers as the charms dripped away from her. She didn’t need them any more than she needed the ground.

Alta stood below and watched her ascend.

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