an excerpt from my attempt – read: ATTEMPT – at a novel.
Her eyes were on the clouds again and she lifted her face to feel the cool chill of October on her entire face and neck. She liked the feeling of it and imagined the air whooshing around her and she flew far above the world and landed wherever she pleased and had the freedom to do whatever she wished to do. She remembered a story that she had read once, a story about a girl who could fly.
The girl was the smallest of five children and all of the children could do something special: one was a musician, one a scientist, one a gifted teacher, one a leader. The girl had nothing and her parents shunned her, believing her to be unworthy of their love. They had raised her to be great and instead she took their gifts and returned to them nothing. She was a freeloader, they accused one day, so her family sent her away. The girl went to live in the forest with the creatures of the green trees. One day, a bird landed on her shoulder when she was crying in the woods.
“Why are you crying?” The bird asked the girl.
“My family left me alone and I have no special talents like everyone else,” The girl said, straightening up from the earth and looking the bird in its eyes.
The bird laughed, a cawing sort of sound. “Why, you have the greatest gift of all, how do you think you’re talking to me?”
The girl was stunned. “I can… I can talk to animals?”
The bird nodded. “Try your power out,” The bird urged her. “Try to talk to the others.”
The girl ran around the forest that day, yelling to the ants and to the birds and to the scary animals and the nice ones, too. She yelled and they responded with curious questions or angry cries to shut the hell up. The bird flew with her and laughed at the different responses and at the end of the day, the bird invited the girl to live with her in her nest. The girl gladly accepted and climbed up the tallest tree in the woods to get to the bird’s nest.
“Your nest is up very high,” The girl said nervously. “I may be able to talk to animals, but I can’t fly.”
The bird shook her head, amused that anybody could be so blind to their own possibilities. “Of course you can fly, you silly girl, what do you think your arms are for?”
“But my arms are human arms,” The girl said, flapping her arms uselessly to exaggerate the point.
The bird raised its eyebrows and told the girl to look at her feet. The girl looked down – they were off of the ground.
“I’m flying!” The girl exclaimed. “How am I flying?” She asked the bird.
“Girl, there is much that you do not know about what you can be. You are flying because I told you that you could.” The bird hopped into her giant nest at the top of the tallest tree. From this height, the pair could see the entire forest. “You have spent your whole life being told that you are not good enough and that you cannot do anything. The greatest tragedy is not that people have said this to you, humans say nasty things all of the time, no, the great tragedy is that you accepted their words as truth. Listen to me now, girl. You can do whatever you believe you can do. You want to fly? Then fly. You want to talk to animals? Talk to the animals. You will find that there are things in this life that few can do only because few believe themselves to be able to do it – not because few are able to do it. Now go to sleep, girl, it is late and we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”
The bird covered the girl in twigs and other sorts of things to keep her warm. Mostly, though, the girl believed herself to be warm and she was. The next morning, the girl felt the bird gently pecking her on her shoulder to wake her up. The time was not yet six o’clock.
“What are we doing up so early?” The girl said.
“You are going to go show your family how much you can do,” The bird said. “You’re going to show them how you can fly.”
“I can’t,” The girl said. “I can’t fly, I mean, not really.”
“Have you remembered nothing, girl?” The bird said. “You must believe in yourself.”
The girl nodded and readied herself to face the family who threw her out not a year ago. The bird led the way and the girl followed, preparing herself to encounter her family. At last, after hours of flying, the bird started to descend upon the girl’s house below. The girl landed in her own front yard and walked to the front door. She rung the doorbell, preparing her speech that she had created while she was flying.
Her parents answered the door. “We thought we told you never to show your untalented face around here ever again,” Her parents said.
“You don’t know what talent is,” The girl said. Then she looked at the bird, who was resting upon her shoulder. She asked the bird, “What should I say next?”
“What did you just say?” Her parents hissed. “Why are you making those sounds?”
“What sounds are they talking about?” The girl asked the bird.
“There! That!” Her parents yelled, pointing at her in an accusing manner. “What are you saying?”
Something dawned upon the girl: they cannot hear her when she is speaking to the bird. “Oh that?” The girl said confidently. “I can speak to animals.”
Her parents started laughing, loud and rude laughs that sounded like the bellowing of a horn of a ship lost at sea.
“Guess what else I can do?” The girl asked her parents, she was bolstered by her parents’ stupid reaction.
“What?” Her parents asked, every syllable made to tell her that they did not care a bit what else she could do.
And without a word, the girl took off. She flew up with the bird and she flew down and around her childhood house. She flew through all of the rooms and saw the sad tired lives of children living up to parents’ expectations. She flew out of her house and back toward the forest, where she could believe and dream and fly.