He wanted to flap, but the sticky water wouldn’t let him.
He remembered a promise of flight in the folding of his wings, a desire to impress, and a vague fear that he’d always fall short. Above all, he wanted to dance.
He wanted to cry out. Something had gone terribly wrong. Then, everything swayed and shook.
Isla carried the box to the front of the classroom and adjusted the origami crane in the still wet glue. Her teacher smiled. Her classmates tried to look unimpressed.
Isla looked at everything she had made, and found it very good.
The old man stared at the distance, at Ruby jumping off the swings and chasing him. Ruby, sweaty-haired and smiling.
He imagined what she’d think of him now, his face lined with a slower temper. She’d grow tired of his shuffling body before it stretched to its diminished height.
But she couldn’t see him, or if she could, he couldn’t hear her. He was spared that indignity.
“Dad!? We’re going home for lunch!”
The old man got up, stepping in line behind his fidgety grandchildren for the headcount.
He looked back, wishing Ruby would catch him just one more time.
His grandchildren tut-tutted from behind their phones. A social worker had waved her angry glasses at him. But he couldn’t play in his cramped apartment. The neighbors complained. (He should complain about them!)
He had to play outside, to wind-gutted trees and passersby. To princes, ballerinas, and circus clowns, if they came! And they did stop by sometimes.
So what if he lost track of time, wandered farther than they thought he should? He was a grown man!
Strangers slowed down to catch his sweet notes on their tongues and smile despite the chill and hurry.
He had to play.
Everybody wanted something, but she couldn’t figure out what she wanted, much less how to get it.
She breathed deliberately, allowing herself to believe she was the right person in the right place. The clouds were the cotton from inside a Tylenol bottle. The moon? A giant analgesic, rolling out of a childproof sky.
Mary raised her arms in sweeping surrender to her imagination, but the garbage bag in her left hand surrendered its contents to the driveway first.
Mary flinched, staring at the banana peel on her pink bunny slipper. She laughed, and found it was easy.
The noise pushed Shelby out of the house and across three fields. It was cool by the stream, and Shelby hid, muddy-footed and hungry, staring at the cabin, not really believing people came here on purpose.
Shelby’s house was full of feet waiting to stomp on any words you were fool enough to let out. “So what, Shelby?!” Stomp. Stomp.
Shelby wanted something that filled you up even more than a bellyful of food — space.
The screen door squawked open, and Shelby saw a woman reading a book at the kitchen table before it cracked shut again.
Room to think.