As Auburn and I made it out to the car, I couldn’t help but tell him about making the top of the class in everything. “Won’t your father be happy about that?” I then asked. “That’s something good about me…” I tossed my backpack into the back of the car, then got into the passenger’s side as he got in the driver’s.
He smiled. “I’m proud of you, Téras.” He said calmly. “Now, how was your day with the popular kid, Eilad, was it?”
“Oh, him.” I sighed, then took a deep breath before blurting out all at once, “Auburn whyyy Eilad?! Why HIM? Why couldn’t it have been someone else? He’s annoying, always chattering, always happy, never serious, and can never say no to ANYONE. Then he just… up and followed me like a puppy everywhere I went! I couldn’t even practically move, as he was constantly breathing down my collar!” I felt it wise not to mention the fact that he was a White-Wing.
Auburn chuckled as he pulled out of the parking lot. “Sounds like you had fun.”
“FUN? That was horrible! HORRID!” I exclaimed, crossing my arms as we started to move. “And boy do my wings feel stiff…” I stretched them for as long as they’d go in the small car which was about three-fourths of one of my wings. “Keeping them so close to me all day hurts…”
Auburn sighed. “Well, we could always clip them…”
“NO! That’s what they do to domesticated birds Auburn!” I cried in horror at the thought.
He chuckled. “I’m teasing, Téras. Trust me, I’m only teasing.” He yawned then glanced over at me for a moment before returning his glance to the road. “You didn’t get into any fights today then?”
“I nearly punched Hutchins.” I answered glumly, “But I didn’t want to bother you and end up suspended again.”
“That is good. I’m glad you’re learning to control your temper. You must think before you act. If you don’t…” He looked away as if something was bothering him. “Well, let’s just say you don’t always get the nicest outcome.”
I looked down at my lap and nodded silently. I knew he was right. But why was he looking so… downcast? “Auburn… what’s wrong?”
His brows raised, then he quickly gave a laugh. “What’s wrong? I don’t think anything is, is there?”
“You look… kinda… distressed, is all…” I answered quietly.
“Do I? Well, I suppose it is because I have been working all day and am tired.” He said with a nod, as he turned into the long, narrow brick road which was the street on which I lived with him, his grump of a father, showy sister, and gaming guru brother. He was the only one who worked or ever did anything of any value; the rest of them just sat around and spent his money. I thought it was unfair.
We went down the narrow street, enclosed on both sides by long, tall, dirty looking cement apartment buildings. Graffiti was sprayed all over most of the buildings, people’s trashcans were full and overflowing, which attracted all sorts of varmints. I never went outside at night. There were the few eerie orange street lights that glowed along the streets at night, but those just added to the creepy effect. Not that I was scared or anything.
Auburn parked in the even narrower alleyways between every two or three complex buildings, and I grabbed my book bag, slung it over my shoulder, then followed him to our building, then started up the old, rusted metal stairs. As I looked at the steps to make sure I wouldn’t miss a step and fall, I wondered what it would be like to fall. Would I be able to fly? I’d never tried it before.
Auburn unlocked the door, and as he did so, I knew exactly what scene awaited me in the apartment when we would enter. It was a fair-sized apartment; there were five rooms. One was a tiny little bathroom and really didn’t count. The largest room was the main room which had a micro-sized kitchen which was never used but to store soda-pops and bags of chips and other snacks, and a little couch and tv. The other three were bedrooms; one I shared with Auburn, one his sister had, and the other his brother shared with his father. But I knew what scene awaited me as I entered behind Auburn. His father would be lounged on the couch, watching some movie with empty pop and beer cans littered around him, and chips probably scattered all over the couch and floor. Really, I wondered if Mr. Prewitt ever even moved. I never saw him get up off the couch, and I think he slept there as well, to be honest.
Auburn’s sister, Claire, would be dressed in some ridiculously fancy and expensive outfit which she’d bought with Auburn’s money, and be putting on some tower-like high heels, and be going to some party where she’d spend the whole night. His brother Aaron was probably in his room sitting on the floor with a gaming remote in his hand, staring at a tv and frantically tapping buttons and ignoring the sheets, pillows, empty coke cans and bags of chips scattered around him. You couldn’t even walk into his room without tripping over something, and the only time he ever came out was to grab a new coke or bag of chips.
“Hello, Father.” Auburn said as we entered. Mr. Prewitt was still on his couch. He gave a grunt in response.
Claire came out of her lavish room whistling. “Oh hello, Aubie, Téras,”
“Hello, Claire.” Auburn gave a nod. “Going out again?” He sighed, seeing her putting on her half-a foot-high high heels.
She nodded. “Yes.” She grabbed her sparkly purse, slung it over her shoulder, then walked out without another word.
I walked right into the back room, the room Auburn and I shared, then I plopped down on my small bed and sighed deeply, before taking my homework out. I could hear the loud video-game Aaron was playing coming from the next room, but focused on the work. I was used to hearing it by now.
Auburn came into the room as well and sat down hard on his bed across the room. He put his head into his hands and rested his elbows on his knees.
“You all right, Auburn?” I asked, looking worriedly up at him. I’d been told he’d been sick for a long time, and that at any time he could get worse.
He looked up at me and nodded, managing a small smile. “I’m fine. Really.” He then sighed as he got onto the floor and pulled a box out from under his bed. He took something from the box- it looked like some sort of black book, then held it out to me as he spoke. “I-I’ve been keeping this for a long time for you…” He glanced down at it, almost as if he was ashamed of something. “I-It was your father’s.”
My brows raised. My father? “Auburn… I thought… I thought you got me at a government-run home…?”
Auburn shook his head. “Yes… and no… let’s say… I met your father once… when he gave me this book… but… that was it.”
My eyes widened. Auburn knew about my parents? “You knew my father? What was he like? Could he fly? How big were his wings?” I blurted out, leaning forward eagerly.
Auburn shook his head, his lips tightly pursed together. “I cannot tell you anything like that about him… we only spoke to each other for a couple minutes…” He held out the book again.
I took it, then looked at the cover. “Holy Bible, huh? My father had this?”
Auburn nodded slowly. “He did.”
I sighed as I flipped through the book. There were lots of little notes, pictures, and lines throughout the book and they were done in a neat, precise hand. I flipped to the front of the book, where there were a list of names under the word “Births”. I didn’t recognize most of them. There were the names Layel, Natt, Temno, Dorcha and Koletis, but the last name I recognized… because it was my own. Téras. These were my siblings? I had siblings? I really… had a family… somewhere… maybe… maybe they were still out there somewhere?
After I said goodbye to all my friends, I dashed down the sidewalk towards my home. There was a small forest bike path which led right by our house, and I loved to fly down it when no one was looking. It kept my wings strong and gave me practice. When I reached it, I looked all around to make sure no one could see me, then took off flying. I couldn’t go very high; my wings were still very small, but I glided nicely along for a few minutes, then landed on the ground again as a small little house, hidden away in the woods became visible. I dashed over to it and saw that all my three other siblings were outside in the backyard. My sister, two years my senior, sat on a fallen log which made a makeshift bench. Her wings were slightly bigger than mine, and they were beautiful because, of course, she kept them very nicely shined and clean. Not to say I didn’t keep mine clean… they were just… more messy than hers.
“Hi Felicitas!” I said cheerily, as I sat down beside her on the bench. My two younger siblings, Anatoly and Dove came running up then to greet me. Anatoly was seven, and Dove was three, and they both too had the small little wings like the rest of us. Dove climbed into my lap with a cheerful, “Hi Eilad!”
“Hi Dovey,” I said with a smile, ruffling her little white curls. “Why’re you all outside? You especially, Felicitas? I thought the outdoor weather would ruin the coating you put on your wings…”
“That is only if it’s raining or humid, Eilad.” Felicitas said with a small smile, as she looked back toward the house. “Pop and Mom say they have a surprise for us, but they have to go to the airport to pick it up. We were told to stay out here until Mom calls us in.”
I groaned. “Oh no. Not Auntie Esther coming to visit again, is it? She’s the grouchiest White-Wing I’ve ever met!”
“Eilad,” Felicitas chided me gently. “If it is Auntie Esther, I’m sure you will be kind and nice to her like you are supposed to be.”
“Yes,” I sighed deeply. “I suppose she’ll take my room again?”
“Well, let’s not jump to conclusions. Maybe it isn’t Auntie Esther.”
“Yeah!” Anatoly jumped up and down. “Maybe it’s Auntie Karen and Uncle Redd and Cousin Rosea!”
Felicitas and I exchanged looks. Though we’d never met these said relatives of ours, we’d been told lots of stories about them. Auntie Karen was our mother’s sister, a White-Wing, but her husband, Uncle Redd, was a Red-Wing, the second most powerful of the Winged Families, only beat by the Black-Wings. The Red-Wings had been the rulers and ‘in-charge’ persons when the Winged-Society had existed, before the Winged population had suddenly dwindled.
And our cousin, Rosea… since her father was a Red-Wing, and her mother a White-Wing, it was only probable that she was a Pink-Wing, one of the very rare, delicate and yet vivacious type of the Wings. Of course, now all of us Wings were pretty rare, but Pink-Wings were up there in the ranks with the Black-Wings as the most rare. We’d never met any of them, but it had always been a subject of curiosity to us, wondering what other types of Wings were like…
And I knew Téras, but… I couldn’t tell anyone I knew him. He was a Black-Wing. And we were supposed to be enemies.
“Perhaps it is them.” Felicitas’ voice broke through my thoughts. It seemed slightly excited but shaky at the same time. “We shall just have to wait and see.”
Anatoly slumped down on the grass at our feet. “I hate waiting.” He muttered, crossing his arms stubbornly. Felicitas and I just laughed.
About fifteen more minutes passed before Mom came to the back door, and with a cheery smile, called us all in. Dove slipped off my lap and started in, Anatoly dashing past her eagerly. Felicitas and I stood up and made our way at a comfortable pace indoors, me hoping with every ounce inside of me that I would not see Auntie Esther standing there in the doorway.
When we entered, however, we stopped short.
“Felicitas, Eilad,” My mother spoke with a wide smile, as my other two siblings were already all over the newcomers. “This is your Uncle Redd, Aunt Karen, and cousin Rosea.”
I stared at them until Felicitas nudged me hard. They were not at all what I was expecting; Cousin Rosea especially. Uncle Redd had short, rounded red wings, but he was a very tall man, who towered over my mother, father, and aunt. He had a frank smile on his broad face, however, which I liked immediately. Aunt Karen was like the rest of us White-Wings, small, pretty, and very sweet and gentle. Rosea was indeed a Pink-Wing. She had bright pink hair, purplish-pink eyes, but her wings differed greatly from any I’d ever even seen even in old pictures of the Winged-Society. They were like fairy wings, small, dainty, and almost a transparent pink. She flapped them shyly as she waved. “H-Hi,” She said softly.
“Hello, Uncle Redd, Auntie Karen, Cousin Rosea.” Felicitas gave a little curtsy to them.
“Hello, Felicitas, Eilad,” Uncle Redd’s booming voice, however, was exactly how I’d imagined it. He had an air of overbearingness about him… but it wasn’t dark and heavy as Téras’ had been. It was more friendly and fatherly than anything.
“H-hello, sir,” I said, “Hello, Cousin Rosea, Aunt Karen,”
My aunt gave a smile back to me, and said in soft tones, “It is so good to see you again, Eilad. I have not seen you since you were a baby! My how you have grown!”
I smiled. “Thank you, Aunt Karen.”
My mother beamed happily. “Felicitas, I hope you shall not mind sharing your room with Rosea for a little while, and Eilad, since they may be here awhile, Rosea shall be attending school with you. We have already arranged it all with Principal Horace. If you could show her around tomorrow and introduce her to your friends to make her feel as welcome as possible, that would be very nice.”
“I shall not mind,” Felicitas answered, and I nodded.
“Of course I can show her around.” My heart almost stopped then as I remembered Téras. Hopefully Rosea was a fair sport and would keep quiet about his wings too.
“C’mon, I’ll show you up to our room,” Felicitas said, and then looked over at me. “Eilad, you come too, and carry Rosea’s bags, won’t you?”
I nodded. “Certainly.”
I picked up the bags that were beside her, and she smiled. “T-thanks, Eilad.”
I nodded as she started after Felicitas, who entered into an animated conversation with her.
Felicitas showed Rosea her room, and said that Rosea could have the bed, and that she would take the pull-out bed which was underneath the other bed. Rosea seemed pretty happy about the whole room, and then we sat down on the bed and started talking about other things.
“What’s your school like?” Rosea then asked me, and it was clear by her nervous voice that she was somewhat anxious about it.
“Oh, it’s swell! Most of the kids are real nice, and don’t worry, I won’t let anyone hurt you. Well… If Téras gets some mad idea in his mind to bully you, I’ll try to stop him, but I honestly don’t know how much I can stand up to him. He’s tough, like all the Black-Wings are supposed to be—” Before I could stop myself, I heard myself blurting out my secret. I cupped my hand over my mouth, as Felicitas stared at me.
“Eilad… a Black-Wing? They are all gone—aren’t they?”
“Don’t tell anyone, please, Felicitas, Rosea… I wouldn’t want Téras getting in trouble just for being a Black-Wing, and… well… I don’t want to have to transfer to another school… and he’s not hurting me… he’s actually kinda nice when you get to know him.”
“And you’ve… gotten to know him?” Felicitas’ brows raised.
I shrugged. “Well… we are study partners for the rest of the school year, I think. Maybe longer… and besides, he doesn’t have any Black-Wing relatives. Or at least he wasn’t picked up by one today. I think he might be an orphan Black-Wing.”
Felicitas sighed. “Eilad… just… if anything turns out to be suspicious with him, tell Mom and Pop right away.”
I nodded, as Rosea looked back and forth between us. “Is this Black-Wing bad?” She then asked.
I shook my head. “No, he’s just a kid, though he has enormous, powerful wings. I’ll introduce you tomorrow. Don’t worry,” I said with a smile, seeing her frightened face. “He doesn’t fight anyone unless they provoke him. And if you just… do as he says, you won’t provoke him. Don’t worry, Rosea, I’ll make sure he doesn’t hurt you. Plus, I got the teachers on my side, and Téras doesn’t want to get suspended again, I think. You’ll see, he’s different from what Black-Wings were rumored to be a long time ago. You’ll see.”