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Story 5

Rie Sheridan Rose


Rie Sheridan Rose's short stories appear in Double Dragon's From Within the Mist ebook and The Stygian Soul as well as Yard Dog Press' A Bubba In Time Saves None. Yard Dog Press is also home to humorous horror chapbooks Tales from the Home for Wayward Spirits and Bar-B-Que Grill and Bruce and Roxanne Save the World...Again. Melange Books carries her romantic fantasy Sidhe Moved Through the Faire. Zumaya Books is home to The Luckless Prince. And Mocha Memoirs has the short stories "Drink My Soul...Please", "It's Always the Same Old Story", and "Bloody Rain" as e-downloads.

The story itself was a result of a comment someone made at ArmadilloCon about children morphing into birds. The idea inspired me to write my first short story in several years. And once the dam was broken, the stories have been coming in a flood.

— Rie Sheridan Rose

To Run Is To Fly

Rie Sheridan Rose


     The air was alive with wings. Red, blue, yellow, green… cascading, swooping, diving, soaring. And song — always song. Teeth fairly rattled with the trilling, cawing, cooing cacophony of it.

     By contrast, the streets seemed dead. Gray buildings populated by gray people living gray lives. On occasion, a careworn face would turn toward the living rainbow above, and an expression of wistful longing would lighten the gray to ash.

     And sometimes, one of the birds would light on a bent shoulder and sing its song directly into a thirsty ear — an earthly benediction — before soaring off again… perhaps leaving a brilliant feather to be treasured like gold.

     The gray folk stumbled and limped. Some held canes or crutches. No one ran.

     Running was for the birds.

     Here and there among the gray folk was a child — but these too were limping gray… or too young to run. Babes in arms were scattered about, toddling tots… toddled, but no one ran.

     It wasn’t forbidden. It was impossible.


     Marta clung to her son. Talman was almost three. His golden hair was a spot of earthbound color in the gray town. His limbs were long and straight. He was a boy born to run.

     So she kept him close. Kept him pent. Tied his wrist to hers with string. Bound him to her shattered gait.

     Talman watched the birds. Daily from barred windows he watched. He reached for them with straining fingers. Tears streaming down her ashen cheeks, Marta watched him as he watched the birds.

     On the square, writ in stone, was the law: TO RUN IS TO FLY.

     It was a curse long suffered.

     No one remembered why it was cast — why they’d been doomed to gray ash. Even the eldest were born beneath its pall….

     But the mothers like Marta held their babes close and prayed for twisted limbs. Hoping against hope.

     To run was to fly.


     One gray day, in a gray month of that gray year, as Marta fussed among her cooking pots, a glass was dropped, a string was cut, and the tether anchoring Talman’s straight limbs and dancing feet snapped in twain. Before the cry of horror could fully form on her ashen lips, he bolted toward the open door and the winter-dark sunlight beyond.

     He hit the doorway running — at long last, running.

     The change began on outstretched arms and upturned face. A shimmer of golden down, pin feathers, pinions, wings — soaring free by the time he reached the square. Golden bird from tow-haired child.

     To run was to fly.


The End

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