“The Girl Who Chopped Off Her Wings” By: Iryna Klishch

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Her mother sold her to the circus at a young age. When we first saw her, we were surprised to find a pair of golden wings growing from her spine. When asked about her condition, she responded with pride.

Her act became the second to last in which she would wear a nude leotard and run across the stage dizzily. She quickly befriended the acrobats. The contortionists gave her Chemistry lessons every Sunday evening. Once, she tried feeding asparagus to the elephants. When we travelled through Kiev, she dyed her hair magenta and slept in lion cages. In Algeria, she began to read tarot cards, always promising love. While in Turkey, she told us she had accidentally stumbled upon the history of Aphrodite. She smelled of jasmine and warm honey, wore her skin like leather, had her tongue always swollen with language.

She met him in St. Petersburg; a Russian novelist who wanted to sail the Indian Ocean. She told us he was a museum of bones and teeth and sweat, told us how his mind was a tsunami of wonder. They ate oysters and drank cold beer, drew wildflowers on each others wrists. At first, he was taken with her wings, we were sure of it. He called her Angel. But while traveling to Minsk on a Tuesday afternoon, due to her wings, she was unable to fit inside a taxi cab. He was furious.

When she chopped her wings off with a chainsaw, it rained for an entire week. Her skin became chalk, small flakes shattered onto the cement like crystal glass. Red splotches appeared on her milk neck, creases of thighs smudged with small bumps – wrinkles formed, even on her stomach, like the shell of a ripe peach, like sin. He left two weeks after seeing her this way.

The wings grew back shortly after. We all watched with electric eyes. They were bigger now, more golden than we could have ever imagined. Her body became beautiful again, but her soul was smoke. She tried doing the acts, but there was something missing. Some time shortly after the last performance of the year, she would discover that her wings could be used for flight. We would watch as the fire of the sky swallowed her whole, the only evidence that she ever existed – a pair of broken wings.


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