At night, when she closes her eyes, she dreams of flying.

During the day, she keeps her head down. It's not hard to do - she's quiet enough, plain enough, to float easily under the radar. When she even bothers to say anything at all, no one hears her. Or they give a start, having forgotten or not realized that she's in the room, and then compose themselves quickly and pretend they knew she was there al along.

She's average in every sense of the word - average height, average weight, average-length dirty-blonde hair. She gets average grades, has average athletic ability, and possesses no outstanding talents to speak of. She keeps her mouth shut, shoulders slumped, in such a way as to easily avoid detection.

Very few notice her, and of those few who do notice, fewer remember her. No one will vote her "Most Likely to Succeed" in the senior yearbook.

But at night, when she buries herself in her pillows, bedspread pulled snugly around her, she is free.

Free of the world of social customs and judgments based on appearance and the lead weight that is her own body and everyone's expectations of her, holding her tightly to the ground; free of the constraints of school and the pressure of her peers and the limits of being sixteen. She is free, she is strong, she is weightless.

And the feathery wings burst from her back, unfurl, blossoming like the vibrant white flowers that bloom on her cherry tree for a few short days every spring, and she stretches these new muscles; she is light as a moonbeam, her feet push off from the grass and she takes to the air.

All through the night she flies, high as Icarus did but the wax on her wings never melts, or low, wings extended and catching the air as the tips of her toes just barely skim the foamy crests of the ocean waves; she dives and soars and skips through the air, loving the lightness and freedom which she can never find anywhere else, until with a start she dives back into her own body and rolls over in bed because the alarm is beeping six o'clock and it's time to get up for school.

So she punches the snooze button as usual, rises with a groan five minutes later, heavy and drab and average as usual, and she goes to school, and she lives her normal, average life, and she waits for the moment when she will get to fly again.

She pages through college catalogs with the rest of her classmates, searching for something that catches her eye, pays attention in class in the hopes that something will make her ears perk up. Searches for her passion, the thing she loves to do, the thing that will make her feel the way her dreams always do, so alive and free and weightless, but she can never figure out what it is.

A few years later, she's sitting in the cockpit, hands and feet at the controls, waiting for the signal for takeoff and the usual weightless feeling as the plane rises, and she smiles to herself.

It's not feathery wings, and she can't glide over the ocean kicking at the waves and laughing with glee anymore -

But it'll do.