1 - A New Beginning
Daedalus sweated and wiped his brow, careful not to stain his masterpiece with any tainted droplets. He had worked himself to tears for months for this perfect gift, to him, and to his son. His nerves trembled as his delicate and rough hands pieced together and ancient architectural structure - much more detailed and complicated than any labyrinth. Daedalus formed with precise fingers, two sets of wings. One for himself, and one for Icarus.
At the first sight of these wings Icarus' eyes lit up. When he was finally fitted with his wings, Icarus could hardly contain his excitement. One by one the two stepped foot on to the windowsill of the tower that had contained them. Daedalus first, testing the strength of the wings. To his delight, they held his weight and he fluttered in the air as a bird.
"Come, Icarus," he said to his son, "fly and together we will escape this madness of this island."
Leaving Crete was all that Daedalus could obsess about - the hellish imprisonment of his knowledge about the labyrinth. He longed to escape and with only Icarus by his side.
Icarus lept from the ledge fool-heartedly, sure of his wings' strength to carry him. Icarus was impulsive and born to fly. He soared into the bright summer sky. Daedalus struggled to keep up with him and panted as he flew after his son.
"Icarus!" yelled Daedalus, "be sure not to fly too close to the sun!"
Icarus glided about the sweet sky, smelling the salt air and tasting his new-born freedom. He rode alongside the gulls and let out little cries of delight, mimicking their own cries.
I could never get tired of this feeling, Icarus thought to himself in a wordless thought.
The sky itself was not a large enough playground for Icarus. Daedalus watched apprehensively as he tried to maintain the same speed and enthusiasm for flight that had befell his own son. Daedalus watched as his son, his only companion, soared higher and higher, above the clouds, reaching for a little place of Heaven. His heart melted as a single tear dropped from his eye and met the raging seas below. My son.
Higher and higher Icarus climbed, lost in his own joy. He neglected to heed his father's only warning as the euphoria took hold of him like a demon possession. Within the climbing heat Icarus never noticed the droplets of wax, slowly dripping their way into the cold and unforgiving ocean so far below him. Icarus realized with a sudden start that his wings were melting. He flapped his arms frantically before seeing that his feathers and wax had come apart. Icarus soared, and now Icarus plummeted into the thrashing ocean.
Daedalus remained in flight and wiped away the single tear that had dropped down his cheek as he watched Icarus sink into the sea. My son, he thought to himself, lost in his sorrow.
What was done had been done. Daedalus remained in flight, with one destination on his mind. He propelled his wings through his growing depression and made one final flight, towards the home where he had raised Icarus, his destination a leather-bound journal of their adventures up until their capture and imprisonment.
As Daedalus turned away from Icarus' watery grave, a single pristine white feather dropped down onto the ocean shore and landed there, making its home.
(many years later)
Aphasia strode down the beach casually, enjoying the sale air and the sound that the waves made crashing upon the shore. The rocks and barnacles crunched underneath her feet. The gulls sang. Aphasia liked birds. She liked the sounds they made, their weightless feathers giving them the gift of flight, but most of all, she liked to kill them. How afterwards, they could be as silent as her.
Bending over slightly, Aphasia swooped down to swiftly pluck a single white feather from the shore. She stuck it in a hand-woven grass purse she kept on her side, and she kept walking back towards the shelter she lived in further down the beach, alone.
Around Aphasia's neck was strung a hand-crafted flute, carved by her from the femur of her very first kill, a turkey-vulture that she had stalked in the woods not far away from her beach camp. Aphasia occasionally tried to remember what had brought her to this island, but had no former memories. She recalled being a young girl and just always being here. Aphasia had by no means explored every nook and cranny of the expansive island, but she made sure she knew every nook and cranny within the nearest few kilometers. She liked being closest to the shore. Although the meat wasn't the best, the ocean was filled with gullible gulls who fell into her traps and provided her with meals. Aphasia survived nearly solely from the birds that she slaughtered.
She had good reason to be envious of the birds. Aphasia had never learned to speak, and she wasn't sure that she could. She was mute. The only way Aphasia could communicate was to sing out a birdsong through her femur-flute. This was enough to communicate and talk to the birds, gain their trust, before she ripped out their feathers and cooked them over her fire. Aphasia could never recall having anybody else to talk to, but she understood that language was a simple human desire. She had had nobody else to speak to, not for fifteen years or so. Aphasia was unsure of exactly how old she was, but she had collections of sticks with notches for days. If she tallied them all up, Aphasia was roughly twenty years old.
Content with the perfect white feather she had found, Aphasia decided to cut her exploration short and head back to her shelter. She walked about the seashore, feeling the brunch of the barnacles beneath her feet as she felt the sun's rays shine down upon her face. This was her entire world.
Off in the distance Aphasia spotted the largest pair of wings she had ever seen in her life and she pulled out her makeshift knife that she had pounded from a seashore rock - it was hand-crafted, but deadly. Aphasia had a collection of knives in different sizes, but this was her preferred weapon for larger predators. She stalked closer and closer to the set of wings and was suddenly aware of the barnacles that crunched beneath her feet. She adjusted the weight of her steps as any good hunter would, and silenced her footsteps. Aphasia was very skilled at being perfectly silent.
A few feet away from the wings now, Aphasia noticed something that stunned her absolutely - the wings were not attached to an animal, but to a person. A thin figure of a girl, nearly a woman, with obsidian hair. Her eyes were closed. Aphasia kept her knife out just in case, and she walked closer to this creature.
The winged creature was asleep, in a deep sleep like Aphasia had never seen before. She seemed to nearly not even breathe, almost as though she didn't need to. This celestial being fascinated Aphasia. Her first instinct was to kill, but she appeared to be more human than any bird that Aphasia had ever seen, and she placed her knife back in her woven grass purse.
Aphasia reached down and touched the face of this girl who had appeared from nowhere, who was now here. The girl cried out slightly, who was still lost in her own sleep. The voice startled Aphasia, who had not heard a human voice in so long. It wasn't as pretty as the sounds that the birds made, but it was beautiful in its own foreign way. Aphasia knew that she couldn't kill her. The two were only roughly a kilometer from Aphasia's camp, and she decided that she had to take care of her.
She lifted the creature with a strength you would not expect from a woman of her size. The winged woman was not large, nor heavy, and Aphasia carried her in her arms, feeling the crunch of barnacles even louder now with both of their weight. As she walked, the creature let out little whimpers of frustration and tossed her head back and forth, but not once did she wake. Aphasia reached her camp and she lay the winged woman down in her bed constructed weekly with fresh leaves. The woman slept on while Aphasia tended to the fire. Though it was only late afternoon, she couldn't risk letting her fire go out, especially before night. The days were hot, and the nights could get cold.
A certain amount of time passed, but Aphasia couldn't be sure how long. She had never learned the concept of time exactly, only that the sun rose and the sun set, and that this could be measured. Some days held lots of sun, others had hours less. It could have been moments of hours, but as she sat staring at the flames lick the logs and create labyrinthine embers, she heard a rustle from behind her. The girl was sitting. Her electric blue eyes were terrified.
"Where am I?" her bird-song sang out with a hint of fear, "Who are you?"
Aphasia spread her palms upward in a gesture of trust. The woman blinked her eyes slowly once at Aphasia. In the animal world this was a sign of a creature being non-threatening, though she couldn't have known this. Aphasia tried the same response, and slowly blinked her own eyes back at the woman.
The woman stood and stared at her surroundings. She took in the campsite with vines that Aphasia had used to mark off perimeters. She looked at the fire pit. It all seemed to primitive to her.
"Do you have a phone I could use?"
Aphasia shrugged. Phone? She shook her head to indicate no.
"Do you speak?" the girl asked.
Aphasia knew of language, but knew only one, the one she had come to rely on through her adventures with birds and wildlife. The girl's words meant nothing to her, but the tone and inflections of her voice were a dead giveaway. She was scared, Aphasia could tell. She was lost. Aphasia shook her head slowly again, before having a brilliant spark of an idea. She pulled out her flute. Surely, this creature was part birds, she could understand a birdsong. Aphasia blew out a quick tune that she had found birds to recognize - a quick few notes to denote a hello.
"Perfect," the girl sat down dejected and joined Aphasia by the fire, "I'm Iris. Nice to meet you. I suppose you can't tell me your name though, so I don't know what to call you."
Aphasia pulled out a stamped charm that she had worn around her wrist as a child, that had gotten too large for the twine she'd worn it with. It now resided in a cloth drawstring bag around her neck, with other sentimental trinkets that were deemed significant for her. A quartz crystal, to refract rainbows and capture sunlight to make fire. Her very first feather, a black down feather from the turkey vulture who had given her the femur to make her flute. Aphasia knew not where the stamped copper charm had come from, it had just always been with her.
She handed the stamped piece of copper to Iris. She knew the word, she had memories of letters from her brazen days of exploration in the years past. Aphasia knew deep down that on this piece of copper was what she was called. It was her name. All her life, Aphasia had wondered what her name was. She waited with bated breath as Iris thumbed over the piece of copper.
"Aphasia," Iris' voice rang out and Aphasia felt shivers run down her spine with the word, "It's really beautiful." She handed Aphasia back the piece of copper, who stuck it back in her sacred drawstring necklace along with her other treasures.
"I have so many questions I want to ask. I suppose you wouldn't have any answers though," Iris laughed. Aphasia pulled out her flute and mimicked Iris' laugh perfectly with a few high notes.
Iris turned her head and smiled at Aphasia. Baring your teeth in the animal world meant that you were a predator, Aphasia knew. But the way that Iris held her teeth didn't make her feel like prey, not with the way her eyes joined in on the smile.
"I can't remember the last time I smiled." Iris said softly, and went back to staring at the fire.
Aphasia reached into her woven grass pack and she pulled out the pristine and ancient feather she had found on the shore just that day. She moved slowly towards Iris who was lost in a well of thoughts that Aphasia couldn't read, and she softly touched one of Iris' wings. Iris, feeling the touch, turned her head and ruffled the feathers slightly. She saw Aphasia holding a feather that nearly matched her own, but was only slightly tarnished by the effects of time - it had to be old, but still looked brand-new. Aphasia smiled, baring her teeth too in kindness, as she delicately placed the feather within Iris' right wing. It fit into place and stood out.
The two girls stared out at the calming waves, lost in their own thoughts as the fire smoldered before them. They sat wordlessly and silent for hours. When the sun had set and the stars had come to shine, they both crawled into Aphasia's bed. Iris curled her wings around the two of them protectively, and Aphasia placed her arms around Iris and held her tightly. To each of them in their own different ways, it had felt good to find somebody to know. Aphasia had found fascination in Iris' wings. Iris had accepted Aphasia's silence.
The two girls were still a complete mystery to the other, and their existence a mystery to themselves. For now though, neither of them had to be alone anymore. The fire flickered, and they both drifted off seamlessly into dreamless sleeps.