Louisa leaned over the edge of the railing and looked down. Ever since she was little she’d been told not to look down. They warned her about being afraid. They said fear was more contagious than the flu.
She never listened though.
Louisa loved to look down; she loved the mind-bendingly dizzy feeling that filled her. She imagined it was what you felt just before you were born- all tingly and new.
“Louisa, you’ll fall,” her mother chided.
Louisa shook her head and stepped down to the assumed safety of the floor of the observation deck. Everyone was always focused on the negative. It was always “Careful, my dear, what if you fall?”
Louisa longed to shout back, “Yes, my dear, but what if I fly?”
Some weeks ago, under the cover of darkness, she’d begun to practice. She started slowly, with a chair, and built her way up to the roof. She loved the sensation; she loved to soar through the air, and she was getting really good at it.
On a good night, she could stay aloft for hours. At first, the birds were afraid of the strange creature in their domain, but it wasn’t long before they accepted her as one of their own.
Louisa wanted to show the world what she could do. She longed to revel in the admiration.
However, today didn’t appear to be the day to show off. She followed her mother toward the exit when a scream ripped through the air. Before her mother could stop her, Louisa was across the deck and over the railing, soaring after the squirming pink bundle.
This was far higher than she’d ever jumped before, and the logical part of her brain warned her to be afraid. She didn’t listen; there wasn’t time for fear.
Louisa focused and slowed the baby’s descent along with her own as she reached out to grab her. The little one writhed and screamed as Louisa concentrated on taking them back to the safety of the deck.
Up and up they flew.
Minutes passed before Louisa returned. She landed gently and handed the baby off to her horrified mother. The woman went pale before she turned and ran away.
The others took several steps away from her, seemingly afraid of some latent radioactivity she might spread to them. Louisa’s shoulders dropped as her mother stomped up to her.
“How many times do I have to tell you?”
“But, mama, I flew! I saved the day.”
“Yes, and now everyone knows what you are,” she hissed. She grabbed her daughter’s hand and dragged her toward the stairs. “We’ll have to leave town before they run us out. Again! What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I flew.” Louisa’s voice was small and far away. This wasn’t how she imagined it would be.