Palomar by Jennifer Anthony
But who would watch out for her?
Legs grousing with every step, she walked down the stairs and into the back yard. She closed her eyes, inhaled the fresh air, and had just begun to flap her arms when she heard careful footsteps.
Paloma peeped one eye open to find Heather standing behind her. Sighing, she squeezed her eye shut again and pretended not to notice. Her feet were singing now, and it would not be long before they gave out altogether. There was nothing to lean her weight on out in the middle of the yard.
“So what will you tell your grandmother?” Paloma asked her.
“I won’t say anything,” the girl said. “On one condition. That you let me fly over here at night,” the girl said.
“Carajo!” Paloma cried. “Absolutamente no.”
The girl snickered. “My grandma swears in Spanish, too! You’re kinda alike, except your accent is better.”
“Saturdays,” Paloma muttered.
“Weekends,” Heather countered.
“Okay,” Paloma said. “But only for a few hours, each night. And then you go home and sleep in your own bed.”
“Yes, yes, yes!” The girl frisked around the dark yard, jumping and leaping.
Paloma resumed the flapping. She shed the weight, the gravity, and the pain. Lifted into the air. Zoomed and zipped over the roof, above the trees, and down and across the grass. Landed.
Another bird stood on the lawn, white feathers tight and shaking, blue eyes glowing in the dark. Paloma waddled toward it, launched herself into the air, and circled back a few times. After three loops, the bird mustered enough courage to follow, and they soared, together, in the night sky.
It was Sunday. The child might return Friday night.
I can make it, Paloma thought. Just five days.
Per Contra Summer 2007