by Madeline Bauder
Aquania walked through the clouds, admiring the feathers of the Tanary birds as they glinted in the sunlight. The Tanary birds were metallic-feathered birds, common in Cloud Town. Aquania was new to Cloud Town, so she was exploring it. She looked up and saw the Cloud Tower spiraling up into the Wild Blue Yonder. The Cloud Tower was an enormous building where all angels attended. Aquania gaped at its size, then continued to explore. She was fascinated by the crystal fountains, the magnificent gates, and the cloud art sprawled on every street. She saw angels milling about every which way, singing, playing, talking, flying, there was so much to do! Aquania wondered what job she would get.
Suddenly, Aquania felt the ground falling out from under her, like quicksand. The cloud was breaking apart from beneath her! Aquania was too stunned to do anything-even fly! Down, down, down Aquania fell, her arms and legs flailing. She fell through layers and layers of clouds, passing planes, balloons, and unusual birds she had never seen before. Just then, Aquania heard something beneath her. Aquania crashed through leaves and branches, and landed on the grass with a thud. The ground shook. Aquanina squeezed her eyes shut, as if she was about to wake up from a bad dream. She dared open one eye. What she saw made her gasp.
Both of her eyes were open now, as she allowed the sunlight to filter through. Aquania was no longer in Cloud Town, but instead in a very unfamiliar place. She didn’t know where, but she did know one thing: she was hurt. Aquania tried to sit up, but found it painful. Nevertheless, she pressed on, and soon found herself standing upright. Aquania twisted her head around to look at her wings. They were torn. Aquania was so shocked, she almost fainted. Regaining her stability, Aquania forced herself to think about her situation logically. She had fallen down from the sky, at least 40,000 feet, she had fallen through trees and branches, explaining why her wing was torn, and she had had a rough landing. Aquania was still dazed from the impact of her landing-it had all but knocked the wind out of her.
As for her mind, she still could not accept the fact that she was not in Cloud Town, but in fact only dreaming. This thought caught Aquania off-guard. Maybe she was only dreaming. Aquania pinched herself hard. Nothing. Aquania opened her eyes again and looked back at her wings. They were still torn. She must have snagged them on something. Feeling weak, helpless, and alone, Aquania slumped down against a tree, and fell into, a deep sleep.
When Aquania awoke, she found herself in the same predicament that she had been in before: alone, helpless, far from home, but she was well rested. Aquania gazed at the terrain that she occupied. The grass was green, along with the trees, and the morning sunrise cast a pink glow over everything. There was a pool of water, reflecting the land and sky like a mirror. There were flowers all around; delicate pink Lady Slippers, the rare Parrot Flower, soft, silky roses, and abundant berry trees.
This place, this meadow, was lovely. She wished she could take a piece of it home. HOME…the word stung Aquania like a needle. Home. How was she ever going to get home? Could she fly back? No, her wings were damaged. Could she ask her friends to help her? No, they were in Cloud Town. Then a horrible thought occurred to her: would anyone notice she was gone?
It was getting late. Aquania looked at the western horizon, painted with blue, purple, and black. Twilight was approaching. Aquania decided she would have to find a place to stay for the night. Aquania wandered around, looking for a suitable place. Her wings glowed against the dark night sky, illuminating her path. After a while of searching, Aquania came upon a small field milkweed pods. This was not what she was looking for, but something attracted her. She went up to one and cautiously pulled apart the bumpy outer skin. Instantly, the air was filled with a sweet aroma. Aquania daintily pulled out some of the silky, white insides. A few stands of the silk escaped her fingers, and floated through the air like wisps of smoke. Aquania soon realized that if she picked enough of the soft silk, she might be able to make a bed, or at least a pillow with the soft material.
Soon Aquania had picked armfuls of the silk. She carried it to a warm spot under a tree where the first rays of sun hit in the morning. Aquania settled down in her milkweed bed, and, once again, fell asleep. She dreamed that she was flying, which wasn’t unusual for her because she often did just that. But, suddenly she fell; down, down, down-
Aquania woke with a jolt, heart hammering in her chest. She tried to calm down. The first hints of the new day were birds fluffing up their feathers, the pink sun creeping up over the hill, and butterflies, stretching their stiff wings. Just then, the spot where she was laying was surrounded in a pink, yellow, and orange glow. The sun floated up over the hills and extended its beauty and warmth to the world, like a tulip, opening it’s petals in the spring. This was what everything had been waiting for. The meadow seemed to come to life as birds darted into the air and began singing; butterflies flapped their wings and rose into the air like leaves-falling up instead of down.
But even as Aquania watched this beautiful seen, she was still full of sadness when she remembered that she was far, and could not get back to-home. Aquania sighed and wished she knew how to get back home. She came up with some options:
1. She could try to fly back
2. She could ask a bird to fly her back
3. She could stay in this foreign place forever
Aquania thought about her options. Asking a bird to help her back was unrealistic. For one thing, the bird wouldn’t be able to understand her, and second, she would be too big and too heavy for the tiny bird to carry. Her second choice was trying to fly back. Aquania decided to give this a try. She heaved herself up, immediately regretting leaving the warmth of her bed. She stretched out her wings. They tingled. Aquania flapped them once, twice, and- Aquania lifted into the air, and then; BAM!!!
Aquania smashed down back onto the ground. She had lifted only a few inches off the grass, and plummeted back down. She lay there, her eyes squeezed shut. This was a familiar feeling. She flashed back to when she had first fallen through the trees and had a rough landing. Except for that time, her wings had only been just torn. This, somehow, felt different. Aquania gingerly twisted around to squint at her wings. She fell back in shock.
Aquania’s wings were not only torn, but they were vanishing. No wonder they tingled, no wonder she had to squint at them. How long would it be until her wings healed? How long would it be until they disappeared completely? Would she have enough time to fly back to cloud Town before they were gone? Or would it be to late…?
Back in Cloud Town, no one had noticed that Aquania was gone. No one ever noticed when anyone was gone. Angles fell out of the sky all the time. But, most of the time, they understood what was happening, and they flew back up. When they didn’t, they landed on Earth and lost their wings. They then served as helpers to people, either acting as peoples’ consciences and telling them what to do, or being “above-average” human beings. No one ever questioned this concept, and all angels soon learned to always be alert and on the look out. If a cloud that you were standing on broke apart, MOVE!!! If something dangerous was happening, GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! It was a way of life for the angels; but, sadly, Aquania didn’t know that.
Nothing. Aquania had scrutinized the meadow, and partly into the near plains to try to find someone-something that could help her get back to Cloud Town. No success. Why, Aquania thought, did it have to me? Why couldn’t some other angel fall out of the sky? She thought some more. Some naughty angel that deserved punishment. Why me? WHY ME? Aquania glanced back at her wings again. They were even paler than before. In fact, reflecting in the sun, she could see only a thin outline, and feel only flimsy film, like that of plastic wrap.
Aqunaia’s stomach grumbled. Food, she thought, I need food. Aquania, weak in strength from her flying attempt, and continually recovering from the thought that she might never see home again, ambled over to a green, and favorably laden with fruit, peach tree. While munching on her breakfast, Aquania saw out of the corner of her eye, a few small birds, pecking around the ground for seeds or worms. No success, like her attempts. Aquania quickly jumped up, and offered them some of her peach. The birds only cocked their heads, and took the peaches.
Maybe it won’t be so bad here, Aquania thought. Just then, two birds came hopping over to her. Then another, and another! Four, five, six, seven, soon, a whole brood. They got underneath Aquania, flapped their wings and… Aquania squeezed her eyes shut. For a moment, she had a dizzy sensation that she was falling. Then, she opened her eyes. She was about ten feet off the ground, going up, up, up. The birds, grateful for Aquania’s kindness, were carrying her back home. Yes! Aquania thought. Yes! I’m going home!
And just like that, Aquania was lifted even higher into the sky, soaring to safety.