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Too Afraid to Fly

You’re afraid, Elsie. You’re too afraid to fly.

“Theo!” Elsie shouted, leaning over the rail. The cold metal pressed into her shirt. The sun trickled down her wings.

I’m the one with the wings, brother. You shouldn’t be the one jumping.

Theo fell with the same careless grace as always. His curly hair fluttered as he fell, hurtling towards the golden waters below. He didn’t look up at her.

“Why do you get wings?” Theo pouted.

Elsie followed his gaze up to the sky. “Because I’m a girl.”

Theo groaned. “It’s not fair. And you never fly, anyway. Why not?”

It was a question that expected no answer, and Elsie gave none. She closed her eyes as the voice inside whispered again: You’re afraid. You're too afraid to fly.

“Theo, please,” she whispered. “Please, come back.”

A crack came from the tree, along with a shriek. “Elsie, help! I’m going to fall!”

Elsie stood quickly, straining to catch sight of Theo’s small form. “Where are you?”

“Right here!”

There. Dangling so many feet above ground, one arm encircled around a groaning branch.

Her chest tightened. “I. . . I can’t. . .”

“Elsie, just fly! Please, I—I’m going to fall!”

Elsie’s mouth went dry. “No. . . no, I. . . can’t. . .”

And then Theo fell.

He was close to the water now. Soon he would be gone, and she would never see him again.

The voice inside whispered again: You’re too afraid to fly.

“I wonder what the land of the fairies looks like,” Theo said, staring out the window.

Elise yawned. “It’s just a story, Theo. It’s time to sleep.”

“But we could still try to find it,” he insisted. “We could fly—you could fly, and you could lift me


Elsie shook her head, wrapping her quilt tightly around her shoulders. “Not tonight.”

There—only two more heartbeats. Elsie couldn’t breathe. She was more conscious of her wings than ever before.

Still Theo fell. . .

And Elsie flew.

No. I’m not.

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