From the fourteenth floor of Kaitlin’s apartment building, the view of the atrium was breathtaking, even gut-wrenching, especially if you were terrified of heights, which Kaitlin was. Because of that, she lived on the second floor, just high enough to feel the thrill of looking down onto the atrium’s floor, but not paralyzing.

Floor 2 was also safe enough for her son, Zeke, all of seven. He wasn’t a climber, so she didn’t have to worry about him falling from the overlook. He was content to peer through the balusters, or on tip-toe, peek over the top rail. Occasionally, he would beg her to take him up to the fourteenth, the top floor, so he could ooh and aah at the building’s lobby floor far below.

“We’ve already been up there once this month,” she said, when he asked for another look only a week after they’d ridden to the top that May. “Other people live up there. We don’t want to be bothering them, or the management will restrict who can visit.”

“Oh, Mom!” He pouted and ran to his room.

What she didn’t tell him was that she frequented the top floor during the day when he was at school. On a break from her home-based editing work, she would ascend to the upper floor and fantasize about standing on the top rail, spreading her imaginary wings and gliding down. In her dream-state, she pictured landing at the bottom with a whisper touch of her feet. 

One morning, a woman with frizzy red hair surprised Kaitlin by appearing at her side without warning, making her jump. “You sure come up here a lot.”  The woman was early fifties, with frown lines, freckles, and green eyes. “If you’re on a suicide mission, I’d rather you take it somewhere else.”

Kaitlin felt her face grow warm, in opposition to the coldness of the stranger’s voice.

“I just love the view,” she said, quickly turning to walk to the elevator.

“Well, so do I. That’s why I leaped at the chance to rent up here.” The woman watched her narrowly. “No pun intended. If you like it so much, tell management you want the next opening on fourteen.”

Not willing to admit to her acrophobia to this woman, Kaitlin opted for a gesture of friendliness. “I’m Kaitlin, down in 203.” She thrust her hand out and looked the woman straight in the eye. “I didn’t mean to intrude on your floor.”

The woman blinked at her for several moments, and the frown on her forehead smoothed away. She glanced down and then back to Kaitlin, and slowly extended her own hand to shake. “Chris,” she said. “You’re not intruding. We’re all tenants.”

Chris hesitated, and Kaitlin checked her watch. “I’ve got to run,” she lied. “My son will home from school soon, and I’ve got a work project to finish.” She would come back another time, when Chris wasn’t there to snoop.

Before she could turn again for the elevator, Chris stopped her. “Wait. I have something I think you could use. I’ll be right back.”

Kaitlin stood at the railing, idly running her fingers along the metal. She heard a rustle of softness and spun around. 

“Here.” Chris held an armful of . . . feathers? The bundle overflowed her arms and trailed to the floor. Mostly grays and whites, but with flashes of teal. “I haven’t used these in several years. They’ll fit you; we’re both about the same size.”

“What is this?” Kaitlin reached out and stroked the feathers. They were synthetic and strong. “A costume?”

“Better.” Chris shook out parts of the bundle. “Try them on. I’ll help you.”

Together, with Kaitlin following Chris’ instructions, they fastened the pieces to Kaitlin’s arms and torso. When every bit had been strapped and buckled in place, Chris smiled, a sadness in her eyes. “They’re perfect on you. I want you to keep them.”

“To do what with?” Kaitlin felt awkward in the outfit, like a circus performer in a Big Top act. “Am I supposed to be a chicken?”

Chris laughed. “Not a chicken. More of an albatross or eagle, a bird with a broad wingspan. I could see it in your eyes. You want to glide down from here. This will let you slowly spiral your descent.”

“You’re kidding.” 

“Not a bit.” Chris straightened a section, tightened a strap. “Try them.”

Kaitlin’s stomach churned; this interaction couldn’t be real. “You’ve used these . . . wings?”

“Don’t worry. They’ll support you fully. The hardest part is the first step. After that, easy as pie.” She considered for a moment. “Watch out for the fountain in the center, though. Aim to land anywhere but that.”

A deep panic set in, and Kaitlin fought to calm her breathing. Part of her wanted to run for the elevator, ripping off the feathers as she went. The other part, despite the terror of free fall, wanted to witness the sensation. She had imagined this for weeks on end, and now it was happening.

“You’re sure these work?” Kaitlin half-hoped Chris would burst out laughing with a “fooled you!” response. 

“Let me help you up.” Chris didn’t seem to have heard her. She stood at the rail, her hand out. “Remember to extend the wings fully, grip the supports firmly with each hand. Relax your hips and legs. Keep your head up so you can see where you’re going.”

Kaitlin took a deep breath and flexed her arms. “Got it.” Far below, the tiered fountain splashed and gurgled. A few tenants chatted at its periphery, unaware of the miracle poised to launch above them. 

She stepped off and was airborne.

Author Bio
Author Bio
Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.
  • First Step
    From the fourteenth floor of Kaitlin’s apartment building, the view of the atrium was breathtaking, even gut-wrenching, especially if you were terrified of heights, which Kaitlin was. Because of that, she lived on the second floor, just high enough to feel the thrill of looking down onto the atrium’s floor, but not paralyzing. Floor 2 […]
  • An Uneasy Out

    The plane sat on the Philadelphia tarmac, waiting in line to take off. Steph blinked at the sunlight illuminating her face in the window seat; clear and sunny: a good omen for her trip to San Diego, to her former roommate’s wedding. Except, the journey was for the marital knot she’d hoped wouldn’t happen.

  • Dianna Sinovic, Featured Author

    Dianna writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

  • Drenched

    A day of never-ending rain. Pounding on the roof, dripping off overflowing eaves, collecting in pools and puddles on the lawn. Hour after hour, by the quarter- and the half-inch, the water climbing the sides of the rain gauge in the small yard until it reached a full three inches.

  • Dianna Sinovic, Featured Author

    Dianna writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

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Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.
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