Author's Notes: Before you start to read the story, I wanted to say thanks to all people who helped me with it: Marco Berzacola for drawing beautiful pictures that inspired me to write it; Vika Kovalenko for helping me with translation; Chris Dawson, Rich Wilson and George Harrison for proofreading and corrections. Also thanks to everyone who have read it in the past and posted their opinions, and who have drawn their own pictures based on the story, I appreciate it very much!
Select your part
She was drifting slowly in weightlessness, in complete darkness and silence, free of all of her troubles, worries and fears. There was a blissful eternity around her, and it made her feel calm and sleepy. She didn't even feel her own body and was just following this invisible stream, having no need to worry about anything. It was a wonderful feeling...
She didn't know how long it had lasted. But she didn't care. She felt so good...
"Lisa, wake up..." she heard a distant voice again.
The feeling of bliss was gradually disappearing. Only darkness stayed, one that made her feel more uncertain than calm. She felt herself lying on something soft. Memories suddenly rushed into her mind, breaking the sweet dam of her amnesia like a fierce river. She remembered that sunny Sunday morning, their trip into the green hills, her and Bart playing in the glade, her own self falling down into the abyss... She started and opened her eyes. Bright light blinded her.
"Thank God you're back..." Marge said.
"Where am I...?" Lisa asked.
"You're at home, in your bed. We brought you here yesterday. You've been unconscious for the whole night. How are you, honey?"
"I'm okay... but my shoulders hurt." Lisa rubbed her forehead. Marge watched her with concern.
"You're lucky you've got neither fractures nor serious injuries... just a few bruises and scratches. It's a miracle you're alive and unhurt, Lisa. As for your shoulders... you've got your brother to thank for that.
He nearly tore them away when he tried to dig you out..."
"Them? Who's them?" Lisa asked bewildered. Marge looked at her shoes, as if they could answer that question.
"Lisa, do you remember what happened then? I mean, when you fell down the canyon?" she asked.
"I remember I was falling down... that's all," Lisa became nervous. "What's happened to me, Mom? Stop tormenting me, tell me the truth already!"
"Calm down, Lisa. Nothing terrible happened to you. Just... oh, how do I explain this?... when we found you, you had... wings. Real wings... just like any bird has."
"What?! Is this a joke?" Lisa turned her head to the left and saw it. Unable to believe her eyes, she stroked the wing with her right hand, felt its warmth... and simultaneously felt the touching of her hand.
She started and looked at her mother with horror in her eyes.
"That's... impossible..." she whispered.
"We thought the same thing at first."
"But... how?! Oh my God, I'm doomed... please Mommy, help me!" She clutched at Marge, like a child wanting nothing more than to bury their face in the warm safety of their mother's chest, and forget about their problems and worries. "If someone ever finds out..."
"No one will know, please don't worry about this, honey." Marge looked at her daughter with love and hugged her. "Oh Lisa... I know how you feel. You're scared, but try to look at this from my point of view: I was always calling you an angel in our family... but now you've become a real angel! I don't know how and why it's happened, but I know that without them, you'd already be dead. So please, don't be scared. We'll help you, Lisa... we're your family, and family looks out for each other, right?"
Lisa embraced her, feeling how Marge's calmness and confidence gradually passed into her. Finally, she looked at her mother again.
"Thanks, Mom," she said. "It seems now that I have to start a new life..."
"Maybe so." Marge smiled. "I suggest you start it in the bath."
Lying in the bath and enjoying the warmth of the water, Lisa felt the pain in her shoulders gradually dissipate. The feeling of deep disappointment was slowly leaving her, being replaced with calmness and logical arguments, the traits that she was always proud to carry. They had never let her down before, and now she could rely on them as usual.
Before taking a bath, Lisa had done her first, but very important experiment. Its result upset her very much. It didn't seem that she would be able to fly in the near future. She wasn't able to control her wings - she failed even to move them a little. It wasn't because they didn't obey her commands; it was because she hadn't known how to issue those commands.
Well, she thought finally, maybe there's nothing odd about it. Only in fairy tales could a hero use any acquired ability at once, as if they had always had it. But it was impossible in real life - any newborn child would spend a lot of time learning how to control their body, to get used to it, to fix these abilities on the subconscious level of their mind... it seemed she had to pass the same as well.
Lisa had the weird feeling again that all of this wasn't real. It's just a dream, she thought, only my imagination playing tricks on me, right? Maybe I ate something bad yesterday... right now I'll wake up in my bed with a scream, Bart will come into my room, I'll tell him about this crazy story, and we'll laugh about it together... She pinched her arm and winced in pain. If it was a dream, it was getting all too real.
Lisa tried to get out of the bath. It wasn't easy, her wet wings were pulling her back. The water was dripping down from her feathers onto the bathroom floor. Lisa somehow managed to wrap herself up in a big towel, sit on the edge of the bath, and lose herself in her thoughts again.
To fly by her own power - could it be real? After all, there was nothing strange that people couldn't do this so far, inventing various complex machines instead. She read something about this in one of her scientific books... a man couldn't fly for only one main reason - he's too big for it. The lifting ability of any wing depends on its size squared; and the weight of any object depends on its size cubed. Starting from a certain point, the weight began to dominate and a successful flight came to be a mere fantasy. The question was where Lisa had stopped - before the critical line or after it? She didn't know the answer...
The knock at the bathroom door interrupted her thoughts.
"Lisa, are you okay there? Do you need some help?" she heard Marge's voice.
"I guess so... come in, Mom," Lisa answered. Marge entered the bathroom, looked at Lisa, and giggled.
"Oh, honey, you look so cute... Stand here, I'll help you to dry them out." Lisa climbed on the stool, Marge knelt beside her and started wiping her wings with a towel, as if she had been doing it every day. Then she took a hair-drier and continued drying the feathers with the hot air. Lisa looked guilty.
"You know, Mom, I feel so embarrassed right now... These wings will bring so much trouble. It seems that I've become just a big problem."
"Lisa, please don't say that. You're not a problem. We're a family, and we should help each other. Remember when I had broken a leg in the mountains? That time it was you who'd been keeping house and you did it perfectly! So please, don't worry. We've been in worse situations." She smiled and continued on to the other wing.
Homer and Bart were watching TV in the family room. Maggie was sitting on the floor, intently playing some kind of music on the child's xylophone. But when Marge and Lisa came down the stairs, everyone looked at Lisa with a glowing admiration.
"Wow, Lis..." Bart said. "You look... awesome!"
He wasn't far from the truth. Her wings, now clean and dry, arranged and smoothed down, were quite regal. On the upper side, the feathering was dark brown, like an eagle's, and at the bottom, where the longest and widest feathers were located, it was a brilliant, shining white. They seemed to shine from within. She looked like the perfect star for any '80's rock music video.
"Well, Lisa," Homer said, "I must admit - I've never seen anything so beautiful in my life... except that huge donut the guy on the top of the donut shop holds..." he began to drool, then reconsidered. "No, I think you're more beautiful Lisa. You're like ten giant jelly-filled donuts! Mmm... jelly-filled..."
"Thanks, Dad," Lisa giggled.
"So, sister, when will we see your first flight?" Bart asked.
"I don't know, Bart." Lisa's mood darkened. "Maybe never. I can't control them." She briefly explained her doubts to her family. & quot;Not only can I not go out now, but it seems they're just unable to take me off the ground." She looked at the family for their reaction. There was a short pause.
"Books, shmooks..." Homer sniffed. "If I were you, I would never worry about that stuff."
"Besides, Lisa, it meant an adult, but you're still a child!" added Bart.
"I don't know much about this," Marge responded. "But I'll never believe that some supreme being has given you wings, and forgotten about your ability to fly. I'm sure it's some kind of a test that you should pass. Just don't give up, and you'll figure it out. You always do."
Lisa looked at them gratefully.
"Thanks for believing in me, guys... I hope you're right."
"Oh!" Marge exclaimed. "Dinner's ready!"
The family was sitting at the table in the dining room. They were eating and talking as usual. Bart and Homer argued, and Marge tried to calm them down. Maggie ate like a small piglet, getting a significant portion of her food on the table and her clothes. Lisa watched all of this indifferently. There came a thought to her mind and though she tried to suppress it, it was in vain... it was like she had heard somebody's voice in her head. You're not a human anymore, you've become something different, it repeated. Look at them - they behave now as if nothing has happened, but that's not true, and you know it. They're afraid of you, and envy you...
Lisa shook her head. Don't ever think so, Lisa, or you'll have lost, she ordered herself. Your family is the only thing of value you have now. She sighed and went on eating. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
"Who could that be...?" Marge wondered aloud. She went to the window and looked out the curtains. "It's Milhouse!" she hissed.
"What should I do, Mom?" Lisa asked anxiously.
"Don't worry Lisa. Just stay here, I'll take it."
She went to the door and opened it. Lisa tried to listen to what they were saying. "No, you can't see Lisa right now, Milhouse," Marge answered... "But why, Mrs. Simpson?"... Milhouse obviously didn't give up... "Because she is... hmmm... she's sick. Very sick. Nobody should see Lisa, it can be dangerous for her."... "Please tell me the truth!"... Lisa heard her friend's tearful voice. "Is she dying?"... "No, she's not, but nevertheless, she can't meet anybody, so... Milhouse, where are you going?!"
This was it, Lisa thought. Now he would come in and see her... but instead she heard Milhouse running down the street, crying loudly. Lisa sighed with relief and sank back into her chair. Marge closed the door and went back to the dinner table.
"Sorry for saying such a thing about you," she said with guilt in her voice.
"It's okay, Mom, I understand." For some reason Lisa became grim. "I think I'd better go to my room. I will try... you know..."
"Sure, honey," Marge responded. "We won't bother you."
Lisa entered the room, closed the door, sat on the bed and concentrated on her whole body, examining it mentally, trying to find a way to control her wings... but she couldn't. She felt them very well, she could easily tell with closed eyes where each of their feathers was located, but they still didn't obey her. It was no use.
Maybe I should try this outside instead of sitting in my room? she thought. But I can't just go out of the house, right? Right, but... I think I can do it later, at night, then all the others will be asleep. Yes, that's a good idea. Lisa drew the curtains, made her bed and set the alarm clock to midnight. She then laid on her bed without changing her clothes, and closed her eyes.
She was dreaming about the sky. The bottomless, boundless sky, brilliant blue, that no artist could ever paint. Lisa was there, hovering in the air, bathing in the sunrays, enjoying the total freedom and the feeling of eternity around her. She flew up, to incredible heights, where the skies were going dark and first stars become visible, and then she abruptly flew down, hiding in white clouds that seemed to be solid from the distance, but were so soft and milky inside, more like a mist. She wasn't afraid of getting tired - she was just enjoying the feeling that no one person in the whole world could have, except her...
Suddenly the sky went dark. Lisa raised her head and saw huge storm clouds forming far above, blocking out the sunlight. Without any warning, lightning struck and thunder blasted, blinding Lisa. She shouted out, but couldn't hear herself over the thunder. And then came the rain. A stream of water smashed into her like a fist, made her wet to the bones in a moment, soaked and stuck her wings. Lisa realized with horror that she was spiraling downward and could do nothing about it. She looked down - the spinning earth was quickly coming nearer. I'm dead, Lisa thought, this time they wouldn't save me, this time they'll find me dead... She closed her eyes and got ready for the terrible, crushing blow...
Lisa jolted awake, feeling her heart pounding in her chest. She looked at her clock - it was a quarter to midnight. She stood up, went to the window, and opened it. Feeling the gentle breeze on her face, she looked outside. The backyard was hardly lit by the moon, which was almost covered with the clouds. She stood at the window for a few minutes, slowly coming to herself and feeling her heart slowing down. Finally, she went back, turned the alarm clock off, and put on her sandals.
There were two ways outside. The first was to get out of the room, quietly go along the hall up to the stairs, come downstairs into the family room, and finally go to the yard via the back door. The second way lay right through her room's window. Lisa climbed onto the windowsill, trying not to lose the balance and carefully stepped on a tree branch that grew near the house. The rest of the way was just a matter of practice. Lisa worked her way to the crown of the tree and came down by the boards nailed to its trunk.
She stood at the center of the small yard, closed her eyes and got concentrated on her wings feeling the light breeze playing with her feathers. "There must be a way to do it..." she thought. She stood still for a few minutes, feeling that she stopped in front of the blank wall again. Finally, she opened her eyes and looked at the dark sky with despair.
"Oh God..." she said quietly. "If you really exist, please help me... I have no idea what to do..."
"Lisa..." a solemn voice suddenly answered her, coming somewhere from above. Lisa jumped.
"Lisa..." went on the same voice. "I order you not to give up. You'll do it... just listen to your heart..."
This time Lisa thought that the voice sounded curiously familiar to her. She looked up to the crown of the tree and saw some motion there.
"Is that you, Bart?" she asked. Bart jumped down to the ground, looking guilty.
"Yep," he smiled. "Sorry for this silly joke, Lisa, but you really looked like an angel asking God for the order to fly, so I decided to play along." Lisa looked at Bart indignantly. "Oh, come on, Lisa!" he continued. "I really want to help you... but I don't quite know how." Bart pondered the subject for a minute. "I think I've got an idea."
"Really?" Lisa looked at Bart with hope.
"Try to strain your whole body and then to relax it."
"Wait... what for?"
"You see, you cannot control your wings just because you don't know how to do it, right? But if you strain your every cell, every muscle, maybe you will catch those ones that you need to, at least by chance... I'm not sure if this will work, but I think you should try. And I'll be near to tell you if they move."
"Okay, let's try this..." Lisa answered. "In any case, things won't get worse."
Lisa stepped away, took a deep breath, held it, closed her eyes and strained her entire body - her arms, shoulders, chest, stomach and legs. She stood that way for a few seconds, feeling like she was going to pass out. Then she slowly relaxed, opened her eyes and looked at her brother. Bart shook his head negatively. She had failed again. Despair captured Lisa.
"Bart, I really don't know how to do it!" She was almost crying. "Stupid wings... Is there any use of them if you can't control them?!"
"Hey, hey," Bart came closer. "Don't be so disappointed, Lisa. I believe in you. You've made it through military school - you'll make it through this, too. Just don't give up and try again."
"No, Bart. That's enough for me. I don't want to hemorrhage trying to do more than I can." Lisa turned around, heading to the back door. Bart put his hand on her shoulder.
"Lisa, please. One more time."
Lisa looked into his eyes. There was something in them... confidence? No... most likely belief, the true belief in her abilities. Lisa sighed. Once again, somebody believed in her more than she did.
"Okay, Bart. One last time." She took a deep breath again, closed her eyes... but this time it was different. A new and strange feeling appeared in her... she held onto it tightly and strained her body like the last time. Bart gasped.
"Lisa, they moved, I swear!"
Lisa had felt it as well... it was only the beginning, but now she knew how to do it, and there was no need to strain herself at all... She tried again, much more gently, and made her wings spread wide and fold back. Bart watched this with amazement.
"Lisa, you know, it's hard for me to say this..." Bart said, "but I'm proud of you."
"Thanks, Bart," Lisa answered with a radiant smile on her face. She wanted to add something, but just then Marge's sleepy face appeared in her window.
"Bart! Lisa! Are you insane?!" she hissed sternly. "What if someone sees you?! Come back inside right now!"
"But Mom, I think I've achieved something!" Lisa responded.
"That's great, honey," Marge yawned. "I'm glad for you, but it's so late... tell me about this tomorrow, okay? And now you both go back to your beds, do you hear me?"
"Yes, Mom," answered Bart and Lisa together and went inside the house.