“Daddy! Look at me!”
“Hi Kate!” As usual, his daughter was up in the tree house he’d built for her last summer. That big oak tree was her domain, and she’d live in it if only her parents would let her.
“Look, Daddy! I got wings!” Kate twirled at the top of the ladder, making him grimace. She did have wings, sprouting from the back of her sun dress.
“Is that what Aunt Morgan sent you for your birthday?” This was Kate’s eighth birthday, and Faye’s sister always sent her niece strange yet beautiful presents. He couldn’t see the straps — it was just like Kate to tuck them under her dress — and the wings themselves were gorgeous. Shaped like a dragonfly’s, they came from her shoulders a deep blue, shot through with streaks the color of Kate’s honey hair, and faded to a near-transparent blue at the tips. The network of veins made them look so lifelike.
“Daddy! Watch me fly now!” Kate hunched over the top of the ladder.
“Kate, no!” he gasped. He knew his daughter: even as a baby, she had no fear of heights, and the bruising mishaps of life had done nothing to teach her caution. He leaped forward, thinking at least I can break her fall. He’d have to tear down the treehouse after this, and that would hurt Kate more than broken bones, but —
She launched herself from the top of the ladder and soared overhead, her laughter nearly drowning out the whirring of wings. He could only stand gaping as she flew laughing under the tree, flitting through the branches as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
“Catch me, Daddy!” He instinctively reached up, and she alit in his hands. Still in shock, he hugged her to him, taking care not to crinkle those beautiful wings.
Kate looked over his shoulder. “Mommy! I flew! Did you see?”
Faye smiled. “Yes — you did very well!” She spoke like Kate had just tied her own shoes. “Your present from Aunt Morgan came, why don’t you go see?”
“Okay!” Kate squirmed out of her father’s embrace and ran inside, wings now folded against her back. Faye went to her husband, took his arm, kissed his cheek.
“Honey,” she said, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”