White light illuminated the fern fronds and the moss beds of the garden. Sounds could be heard drifting on a straight breeze: the sweet chimes of birdcall, the whispering as the wind slithered and wound through tree branches. There were no scents there.
A figure sat cross-legged by a brook that scurried across smoothed pebbles. Its hair was long and wavy, the light setting the copper of it on fire. Its skin was pale, very pale. The hands were bony objects that balanced on the figure's protruding knees. It was clothed in a trailing azure gown that glittered with the insets of many tiny sapphires. The hems of the gown caressed the brook's surface.
The figure's face was as pallid and impassive as bleached rock. The eyes did not move behind their eyelids. The lips did not even twitch. Had the figure's intake of breath not been heard, they would have appeared to all eyes dead. But the figure lived.
Now something stirred: not the face, not the hands or the feet. Many things murmured as they slid against each other, unfurling. The air whispered as the soft fingers of feathers stroked it, and whipped it. The two wings spread out to their full length, a perfect symmetry of feather and skin. Copper, grey, black and white flashed beneath the relentless light. The wings beat the air, throwing up gusts of wind. They rose and fell with short falls, becoming faster and faster, like a bird preparing for flight-then they faltered, calmly lowering. Their actions finished, they retreated, folding as silvery semi-circles on the figure's back.
Stillness resumed. The wings made no quivers of motion again.
And then, the figure's eyes opened.
"Karin Michelle Donover."