I wrote this piece with my Thursday night writing group with the intriguing prompts: a child with wings, beautiful but scary, delivered right to your door, eternal spring, a green bird in winter, and he couldn’t escape the red. Maybe it’s a bit of flash fiction, but it feels like the first page of a novel. We shall see. . .
The route was beautiful but scary, starting in the most crime-ridden and garbage-strewn streets of the financial district, a place where hefty men in silk business suits and expensive running shoes would dart into limos escorted by taller, fitter men in cheap suits and ear buds. Then the trail would wind down to the beach and along the cliffs, becoming narrower and narrower until only a child with small feet or a woman with slim hips could slide along the edge of the rocks. And yet the bakery and dairy were committed to door to door delivery since so few people wanted to venture outside anymore. Their customers were willing to pay top dollar for their fresh bread and jack cheese, so fragrant and delicate, yet keeping couriers on their payroll was a challenge for the brothers who owned the side by side businesses.
Then they found Antonio, still a child, but large for his age, and seemingly fearless. He was faster than any delivery staff they’d every employed, and never complained as long as he was allowed to travel with his pet bird that perched on his shoulder when he arrived at work each morning. When asked, Harvey, the younger brother who ran the bakery, was sure the bird was a parakeet. Harold, the brother who ran the dairy, scoffed at that. “Don’t be ridiculous. Parakeets are small. This bird is massive.” The only thing they could agree on was that the bird was green, and the colder the weather got, the more florescent its feathers appeared. As the days grew short, the bird’s wings shone like a neon light.
What the brothers didn’t know was Antonio himself had a pair of green wings under his frayed denim jacket. This was how he managed his deliveries in record time. Sometimes a homeless scavenger rummaging through an alley or a fisherman in a small boat on the bay would catch sight of Antonio, aloft above the asphalt or skirting the craggy coast, but Antonio didn’t worry about this. He knew they wouldn’t believe their eyes. He knew they wouldn’t disturb him. He knew he and his avian companion had to keep moving if they were going to escape the red. Because if they could escape the red, they just might make it to the Land of Eternal Spring.