"Wings Of Hope"
The bell rang for lunch and I gathered my books.
"Jack? Will you come here for a moment please?"
My classmates filed past me as I walked over to Mr. Cossette's desk. He had been my English teacher last year and this year he was my Debate teacher.
"Am I in trouble?"
"Goodness no! I heard about your book. I just wanted to say congratulations."
I smiled. "Thanks! I got the letter on Saturday, I'm surprised that the news got out so fast."
His slight Canadian accent made me laugh. "Au contraire, your mother called Mr. Carroll to let him know about it and he told me."
I shook my head. "I'm still too shocked to believe that I'm not dreaming. I'm mailing the manuscript off this afternoon."
"Let me known when you have a date set for it to come to bookstores."
"I will Mr. Cossette. I'll have a copy reserved for you."
He smiled. "Thank you Jack, I really appreciate that. Now go get some lunch, you must be starving."
I walked past one of our two theatres and saw Joshua come out of the history of classical music room. He held out his arm and I joined him as we walked up the three flights of the stairs to the ground level of the student center.
"How was class?"
"Pretty good, we spent most of it getting ready for the Mt. Spokane debate on Friday. Mr. Cossette found out about my book; I'm sure that the whole school knows by now."
"Well of course everyone knows Jack. It's amazing that you're first book is going to be published before you turn seventeen. You can't keep a secret at Prep for long."
I blushed as he nudged the side door open with his foot.
"Oh my goodness! It's raining!" I smiled as we hurried to the main building.
The bushes in front of freshman hall were flooded with water and the cloudy gray sky promised more rain was to come.
We dashed inside and stowed our books in our lockers. Joshua put his arm around my waist as we walked up the first flight of stairs from the senior hall. I sighed as we turned and walked up the next set of stairs. We reached the top of the steps and I stopped.
"Joshua, we need to talk."
I leaned against the concrete ledge that overlooked the twenty-foot drop down to the stairs.
"What's up?" he asked with a worried face.
I started to say something, but stopped and said something else.
"It's you and me, what's been going on lately."
"Is it something that I said?"
"No, nothing you've said, more like what you're doing."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you remember when I called you late one night this summer? I had just dumped Chris."
"Yeah I remember. You were crying and you said that you had let him go as easy as you could, but he didn't like it and said some things that he shouldn't have. You felt so hurt and alone; I wish that I could have been there for you. It was a few days before you came home from Arizona, from being at your dad's place for the summer."
I nodded. "And remember how I said that I never wanted to risk my heart again because I didn't want to get hurt?"
I pushed myself up and sat on the ledge; Joshua cringed but didn't say anything about it.
"I always wondered what he could have said to make you feel so hurt."
"I'll tell you someday, when the memory is quite so sharp."
A few other seniors walked by and he waited until they had disappeared down the stairs.
"So what are you getting at?"
"Joshua, please don't make me break your heart." I pleaded.
He quirked an eyebrow and then it dawned on him.
"You still aren't ready to date yet."
I nodded with tears in my eyes.
"I would really love to date you Joshua, but not right now. Maybe in a few months, just give me some more time get over Chris. I really do like you, and I don't think that I can ever thank you enough for being there for me after what happened with him this summer. Can we still be friends?"
"Of course!" He held out his arms to hug me.
I smiled and moved to get down but my hand slipped on the smooth concrete. I pitched backward and fell off the ledge.
I didn't even have time to scream.
This is it, I thought. God save me!
I expected to hit the stairs any second and when I didn't, I opened one cautious eye and saw that I was suspended in midair. I looked above me expecting to see Joshua gripping my hand, but I saw something completely different.
Blue wings had appeared out of nowhere on my back. They moved back and forth to keep me in the air. I gasped at the sight as several seniors screamed.
Mr. McKenna burst out of his biology classroom and saw me.
"Jack! What happened?" Joshua asked, leaning over the ledge above me.
My wings slowed and let me drift down to the stairs.
Joshua and Mr. McKenna recovered at the same time and both came toward me. Joshua thundered down the steps behind me and grabbed me and hugged me in relief. Mr. McKenna waited for Joshua to release me.
"How did you do that?" he asked after Joshua let me go.
"I honestly have no idea. I fell over the ledge and then this happened."
We heard several gasps and shrieks; I turned and saw that senior hall was full of students and teachers.
"Uh oh," I said.
"Let's go in my classroom."
Joshua and I followed Mr. McKenna into his classroom. He closed the door and leaned against one of the black lab tables. Joshua and I leaned against one opposite from him. Mr. McKenna's brows knit as he stared at my wings.
While he thought about what had happened, I realized that everything had changed. I was different now. That can be good, I thought, but it can also be bad. People would treat me differently; I would be seen differently as a human being. I probably couldn't go out in public without hiding my wings. Mr. McKenna's voice brought me back to the present.
"Now as a biology teacher, I understand that genes and DNA can have mutations that can be reflected in physical traits; but I have never heard of something like this happening."
"Maybe there was a mutant gene that was dormant until now." Joshua said as he took my hand in a comforting grip.
"That still wouldn't explain how they appeared so quickly." Mr. McKenna countered.
"Maybe they're a gift." I whispered with a fixed gaze on the floor.
"What?" Joshua asked.
"We all know the story of Joshua asking God to stop the sun in the sky for a day at the battle of Gideon right?" They both nodded. "Maybe these wings appeared because God heard my prayer to save me. Maybe I have something important still to do in this life that was too important for me to die before I did it. I really don't care how they appeared, I just want to know why they did."
I looked up at Mr. McKenna as the bell rang for lunch to end.
"How am I going to get to my next class?"
He stood up and went over to his computer.
"I'll send an e-mail to your teacher explaining what happened. I'll let you go to your class after the bell has rung, that way you don't have to deal with the students and teachers. And I'll send an e-mail to the deans explaining what happened and let them deal with the situation from there."
"Thank you," Joshua and I said.
A few quiet moments passed as we waited for the bell to ring. When it finally did, I cautiously stuck my head out the door and looked up and down the hall.
When the final students had left, I turned to my biology teacher from the previous year and said, "Thanks Mr. McKenna!"
Joshua gave me a hug once we were in the hall.
"I'll see you later."
"Bye!" I said as I darted up the stairs to my locker.
I gathered my books for my Trigonometry class and went back downstairs.
"So what are we supposed to say?" asked Ryan when Mrs. Manikowsky finished telling her class about their "gifted" student.
"Should we just ignore the fact that she's not normal?" voiced Andrea.
"Alright! That's enough!" Mrs. Manikowsky said. "Just treat her like she's normal. I want you all to…"
The door opened and I walked in carrying my books. I shut the door and walked to my seat at the back of the room. I sat down and glanced up to see everyone staring at me.
"What?" I asked like it was an everyday occurrence to have wings.
Everyone in my class started asking me questions and I really wished that I were invisible at that moment.
Our teacher cleared her throat and that got everyone's attention. When Mrs. Manikowsky clears her throat, it usually doesn't mean anything good. Everyone turned around in his or her seat to face her.
God help me get through today, I prayed as our teacher began to speak.
"I don't want to hear another word out of any of you! Jack has just been through a very traumatic experience and I'm sure that she doesn't appreciate your questions so soon after the fact."
She smiled at me with sympathy.
"Now open your books to page 582."