Меня зовут Юля Сибирцева, и псевдонима у меня нет; все и так думают, что это моя ненастоящая фамилия. Я чуть старше того возраста, когда все твои поступки списывают на подростковый период, но младше того, когда тебя воспринимают серьезно. Мне нравится наблюдать, слушать, а порой думать. Иногда в моей голове застревает какая-нибудь мысль, и я выработала привычку переносить ее на бумагу. Думаю, так писателями и становятся.
My name’s Yulya Sibirtseva, and I don’t actually need a pen name due to everyone thinks it’s not my real surname. I’m too old to be a teenager but not old enough to fit in adult world. I like observing, listening to, and thinking sometimes. When thoughts stuck in my head I write them down which has become a habit. Guess that’s how they become writers.
Рассказ “Wings in the Box“
Wings in the Box
I opened the box with wings. Strange I had never noticed it before. It had never caught my eye even though it was red in colour and lay in an open space. It might have happened because the red colour was not bright enough. Or, which is more probable, because I rarely ever notice anything around me.
They were incredibly beautiful wings. The feathers were long and fine as if knit of zephyrous cloudy threads powdered on top with soft pink snow. Golden runs blistered in the light: they timidly sparkled being scared of sun rays tickling them. By touch they were softer than the most precious silk. I knew for sure no special effort had been taken to make them look so great. My wings were exactly like those from the box.
Those were mom’s wings. I hadn’t seen them before but they belonged to her, no doubt. I wonder how long they had been in that box. Unpleasant grey bobblings were formed in the corners. Those could be scraped out only with the help of a long nail of a very thin little finger. No less than 10 years ago or rather more than that the wings had been put in that box.
I was surprised. Mom was not a sentimental person, keeping memories from the past. “Moving and striving is what life is” she used to say. Every time she said that I would play a smile around the edges of my lips and nod approvingly. Mom knew I was being sly. She knew those words scared me and had stopped fighting my fears since long ago. Was she tired? Desperate? No, it didn’t look like her. She just took a break to later enter the struggle with renewed vigour.
Having spread the wings on the bed I started to finger over them like playing the strings of a harp. I really imagined myself a prominent harpist. I liked to imagine myself in various roles – like a talented or goal-oriented person, someone who I would never become.
Finally my imaginary concert came to an end – ovation and applause kept sounding in my head. I sat on the bed, pulled up my legs and covered myself with my own wings. Fine sun rays transpired through the feathers. The light was soft. It warmed up the surrounding space rather than lighting it up. Being in that golden-white cocoon, breathing that softly-softly scent of the feathers, hearing nothing at all was such a great pleasure. Not a single sound.
I had often wished to wrap up in the wings when at school, especially during the recesses when it started to get noisy. A strange rush took place during these times. Voices, laughter, the patter of shoe-heels, and the shouts and yelling – that’s what school was all about for me. I can’t say I hated it. I liked to study at school, but my classmates, their way of interacting scared me.
At junior school I had many friends and acquaintances. People were always willing to examine my wings. Even strangers would often tell me they were eager to have similar wings. I might endlessly deny that and behave affectedly, but I must admit my wings were really beautiful. In fact, the wings were the best part of me.
I liked compliments. Everybody likes them. But few can accept them without being embarrassed. Accepting kind words with a smile, returning the warmth is a great skill. I used to possess it when I was little, but I forgot how to smile as I grew up.
I was very fond of interacting when I was a little girl. Our family wasn’t big, but we had many friends and acquaintances. Almost every weekend and sometimes even on weekdays my grandma would take me for visits. We had great fun. Grandma’s friends would secretly treat me to various delicacies, laugh at all my jokes, even at the dim ones, and just were very attentive to me. A whole bunch of kids would gather there. And I was always the eldest among them. Therefore, when the adults sent us to another room for a play I was always made responsible for the whole team. Sometimes, they would come to our room out of curiosity and tell me what a good girl I was. You can’t imagine how proud I was at such moments! Responsibility laid on me made me feel like a grown-up.
Everyone being a child dreamt of the life of a grown-up. It was hard to imagine they would one day become part of it. It all happens unexpectedly, spontaneously, in curious circumstances. I used to know those who at the age of thirteen had already gone through “all the difficulties and mishaps of life”, and those being slackers of preretirement age had their heads in the clouds, seas, and oceans.
Once, it was announced to me that I was a grown-up. I was astonished. All my documents belonged to an adult person now. So everybody except me thought that my mind must suddenly change, just like midday turns into one minute after twelve. Somehow the perfume that I had used for several years became “the adornment of an adult lady”. My affection for cartoons had turned into “cute eccentricity”. Moreover, I started to fear responsibility which came down on me like an avalanche.
At university I was awarded the status of a head-girl, head of the group. Twenty “adults” just like me, for who the worst ordeals were Physics and three missed calls from the parents started to rely on me for many issues.
It was my mom who fixed it up: she still remembered that little girl, who was convinced that responsibility had made her a grown-up. Unfortunately, we never knew each other. She would teach me a lot of things.
When the responsibility started to grow fast I got scared. I just in time remembered about my wings. The avalanche of responsibility crashed on the wings and even smashed them. I was saved.
The wings protected me. They were like specially designed to wrap me up. They grew on my back to save me from the big, scary world which was nothing like the one I had read about in the fantastic fiction.
I decided that wings are meant to protect us from the outer world. Mom was of a different opinion. She would always try to drag me out of the shelter using either words or force, when she had no other choice. “You are my favourite teenager!” – she would say with a smile on her face and sadness in her eyes. Mom still wished to see that sunny little girl.
Adults have no wings. Back in childhood I would ask mom why this was so. Mom explained to me that some are lucky to be born a child and thus have the right to use the wings the way they like; others are born big and boring grown-ups, whose duty is to look after the fast fliers like you. Then she would tap me on the nose and give me a candy. I was happy with the version. Sadly I learnt the truth.
“Learnt the truth” – sounds dramatic! As if mysterium cosmographicum was opened to me, or I was introduced to a powerful organization controlling humanity. No, the world appeared as a much simpler structure to me, though people wished to see it as something complicated and frightening. I learnt that once they become grown-ups fliers take off their wings.
“They stop you from doing proper things” – others would explain to me. I still do not understand what “proper things” they were talking about, and how wings could stop me from doing those things is just another question.
Once, when I was in the seventh form, a classmate came into the class wearing no wings. There was so much delight and even more of envy. Boys and girls wearing wings approached the girl and asked her how and why it happened. She would tiredly answer:
“My life went into a new stage”. Nobody really understood the meaning of these words. But it sounded obscure and thus it was the right thing. Almost half of the class moved onto a “new stage” within half a year.
My friends and I were not in a rush. We liked the ability to fly, the feeling of carelessness and easiness, produced by the wings. We didn’t care about somebody else’s opinion for the time being.
Suddenly the time came when my friends one by one started to take off their wings. They seemed happy, free and at the same time tense. I knew that in my absence they talked about the wings as a burden. They forgot about all the joyful flights we had enjoyed.
I’m often looked at askance in the street because I wear wings. Adults condemn me for being part of the contemporary immature youth. The off-springs keep silent while the adults are still next to them and just pick the asphalt with their shoe tips. Only when the long-waited-for freedom comes to them do they dab with their fingers, curse and hiss you. There’s no point in paying attention to it. They don’t understand neither the meaning of those swear words nor the meaning of the actions they take. They have just listened too much to their parents whilst having dinner.