by Bronwen Griffiths
She’s up there again. I don’t know how she does it. Ma and Pa never see her. They’re always too busy with their card games. My brother sees. He’s always asking when it will be his turn and I say, “Don’t be silly, Jose. She’s the only one who can fly.”
When I say this tonight his face crumples like a sweet wrapper and I have to add, “Well, maybe Jose. Maybe one day.”
“Do you think flying is easy?” he asks, his face hopeful and wide. “Pa says learning to drive is as easy as ABC.”
I want to say to Jose that he’s not so good with his ABC, not yet anyhow, but I don’t.
“What does she do up there?”
I tell him how she looks down on the patchwork of yards, on us lying here on the terrace next to Ma and Pa, at the silver snake of the river and that when she flies up high she sees the whole earth, a blue marble in space.
“Wow,” he says. “Wow.”
“Hello up there! Are you having fun?” I say though not so loud that Ma and Pa will notice. But even if I shouted, the flying girl wouldn’t answer. She’s too far away.
My brother is wearing blue socks. The flying girl has three pigtails and her dress sails behind her, white like the moon.
“Is she going to fall?” my brother asks.
“Of course not,” I say. But she does look a little lost all alone up there.
“Why are her arms stretched out?” he says, pulling at my hem.
“To help her navigate.”
“Like a bird’s wing.”
“Yes, something like that.” I push my brother’s hand away and when I look up again the flying girl is turning toward the bridge. The lights on the bridge are like the stars in the sky. “I wonder if she’ll fly over the top or go underneath.”
“She’ll go under like those aeroplanes we saw last summer.” My brother nods his head slowly when he says this.
“Maybe,” I say.
The thud on the pavement is soft. As if someone had thrown a cushion. I close my eyes. “Is she still flying?”
“She went under the bridge,” my brother says, “like I thought she would.”
Everyone remembers the day the famous flying girl, Emilia Gomez, visited our city. Who could forget, even though it is so long ago? No one knows what happened to her. Some say she flew to the moon. Others say she was captured by scientists who wanted to study her unique abilities. My brother said she dived into the river and turned into a fish. There were plenty of rumours. A Hollywood film too. But the truth is, none of us really knows. I think she decided to stop flying. She grew up and she got scared. But when I close my eyes at night I still see her, flying above us all.
Bronwen lives in Hastings. She loves the sea but also loves escaping to deserts. She has one published novel, A Bird in the House (2014). Although the novel is not autobiographical, the Libyan setting and political events described in the book come from her experience of visiting Libya in February 2011. She was airlifted out of Libya when the conflict there started — a conflict which ultimately led to the ousting of Colonel Gaddafi.
She’s had stories published in Horizon Review and other magazines, and her poems and flash fiction have also been published. Her novel Mermaid at the End of the World was shortlisted for the Writers News/WOW Factor competition in 2007. She has an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development from Sussex University. Website: http://bronwengriff.co.uk/