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Flash Fiction: Feather-Blessed

The feather drifts down from the sky,
riding the thermals,
tossed north and east in turns by the crosswinds,
heading toward a tiny wooden pier.
It's tinted gold and orange by the sunset.

“What do you think it would it be like?” Grace kicked her feet, her toes barely skimming the cool water of the lake, but her eyes were on the sky. She spread her arms as if she could feel the wind under them.

“What?” Stella didn’t glance up from the copy of Feather-Blessed she was reading.


“You sit in an uncomfortable seat and if you’re lucky, you have a window to look out of.”

“That’s not flying—that’s—being flown!”

“Don’t let Batty Hattie catch you using words like that.”

Grace ignored the reference to their English teacher, and looked up, up, up. Far above was a tiny wisp of—cloud? No. It was falling, like a snowflake, out of a clear blue sky on a summer’s day.

The wind calms,
and the feather drifts downward,
over the dark girl’s head.
It brushes her forehead like a benediction,
and lands in her upraised hand.

“Look at this!” Grace turned to Stella, but Stella’s nose was firmly buried in her book. Grace’s book, actually. And it was a good book, that’s why she’d loaned it to Stella. Noticing that Stella was almost at the end, Grace took pity on her friend, and fell silent. It was that book that first triggered her longing to fly.

Grace turned her back to her friend, and her attention to the feather. It was fluffy, and curled—a breast feather, like from over the heart of a bird. It was a delicate pink, but in the sunset, it glowed with gold and orange and the purest, brightest white. And it was huge, longer than her hand. Just like in the book.

It pulsed, sending off tiny showers of gold light.

After a while, Stella looked up. “Wow! What a book.”

Grace stuffed the magic feather into her pocket, protectively, then turned. “It is, isn’t it?”

“Do you think something like that could really happen? A feather that—changes you?

“Nah.” Grace could feel the feather pulsing in her pocket. “It’s just fiction.”

Stella’s shoulders slumped, and she looked down. “I guess you’re right.”

“Hey, you were the one being cynical a minute ago.”

“Habit. But this book—“


“It makes you believe in magic. No wonder you’ve been staring at the sky for days.”

“I have?”

“Oh, stop playing dumb!” Stella moved to the edge of the pier, and trailed her pale toes through the water. “If one of those feathers came to you, which would you pick? Dragon, gryphon, or fairy?”

Grace considered. Hand, forearm, or shoulder? “I wonder what would happen if I pierced my foot?”

“You’d probably just waste the magic, doing that!”

“Ok, dragon, then.

“Not a fairy? Fairies can hide their wings, and stay here. Go to school, even.”

“If you were going to just stay here, why do it at all?”

Stella stared at her, her eyes bright and intense. “So, you’d really use the magic, change yourself, and fly away?”

Grace squirmed. “It’s fiction, remember?” Her pocket throbbed.

“But if!”

“If.” Grace looked up, imagining what it would be like to soar high above everything she knew. “Well, ever since reading that book, I have yearned for the sky.”

“Me too.”

“You just finished it!” Grace picked the book up from the pier and turned her attention to the cover, where bright-winged fairies danced with colorful gryphons and dragons.

“What, you had to sleep on it to feel it?”

“Well, no.”

Stella kicked at the water. “If—if you did, would you just fly away from—“ She paused, not meeting Grace’s eyes. She twisted her pinkies together and Grace realized what she was asking. “—here?”

Grace grabbed Stella’s hand and linked their pinkies, swinging their hands together in their own private ritual, the book resting where it fell in her lap. “I promised I’d always be your best friend. I can’t just—wouldn’t just—fly away from here, leaving you behind.” But if the book was right, she’d have to do just that, enter a new world, all alone, and leave her friend behind. Even the fairies left, eventually.

She hugged Stella, ignoring the throbbing magic in her pocket. “If I found a feather, I’d—I’d throw it away.”


Grace nodded firmly. “Really.” She stood up, and jammed the book in her pocket on top of the feather, hoping to squash it into stillness. “Come on, I have enough money to buy us each an ice cream cone.”

The feather curls around the book,
shedding magic motes into the girl’s pocket,
and into the pages of the book.
It absorbs the cool, clean scent of ice cream,
and its colors deepen.

Grace ignored the feather and the book for the rest of the day, until she was undressing for bed. Then she pulled them out of her pocket. The feather was still perfect, still glowing and throwing off shiny sparkles.

Thinking of Stella, she didn’t drive the beautiful quill into her own skin, not the shoulder for fairy wings, not the forearm for gryphon wings, and not the hand for dragon wings. Not even a foot, for some kind of mystery adventure.

But she also didn’t throw it away. She stood over the wastebasket with it in her hand until her mother tapped on the door, reminding her bedtime was past. Unable to drop the feather into the trash, she shoved it into the book. “Ok. Mom.”

She pushed the book into the back of her closet, under her winter boots and ice-skates, and firmly closed the door.

All night, she dreamed of flying.
The feather lies still,
frilly edges glowing in the tiny, dark room,
waiting for a hand or a breeze to lift it
once again into the air.
Waiting for a dreamer to bless.

Copyright © 2010 Deirdre M. Murphy

There's a sequel here.

Please, leave me a comment below to let me know what you think.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
This is lovely. :)
Feb. 5th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Feb. 5th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed it.
Feb. 5th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
Feb. 5th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
Really cool! I hope that Grace decided to use the feather. Wonderful name btw, Grace.
Feb. 5th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you stopped by. (Are you a fan of Hope and Charity too?)

Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
It just seems like the perfect name because, to me she had been shown grace, that her dream could come true, and that she would be graceful in flight.

As names, I like Hope. Not to crazy about Charity.
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh--I like your reasoning for Grace's name! I like that a lot!
Feb. 5th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Maybe that's supposed to be sweet and touching, but I find it terribly sad. If someone I loved had to choose between a great dream and staying with me, I hope I'd let them go. If I got the chance to turn into a dragon and fly away, I hope the people I care about would forgive me.
Feb. 5th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
It's not fair that people have to make choices like this one, but the world isn't fair. And people do have to choose whether to stay where they are, with current friends, or move elsewhere, all the time. And some friends stay friends long distance, some let you go with congratulations, and some mourn you as lost, whether with anger or understanding. But no one said the world, real or fictional, is fair.

As to your friends, I'm quite certain they would understand. Many would cheer you on!

With your love of big cats, why be a dragon instead of a gryphon?
Feb. 5th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
I like that you didn't immediately go the obvious direction. The feather is still there and Grace still has a little time to consider, to be honest with Stella, to give Stella the chance to love her enough to let her choose the flight adventure, if she wants that. I also like that the feather is waiting a chance to go find another dreamer--perhaps Stella? What would she do with the chance?

Good story!
Feb. 5th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

If the feather's magic doesn't fade until it's used, then there will be a dreamer for it sooner or later. Especially since it's inside the book that gives clues as to its use. But who? Grace? Stella? Somebody's little sibling, rummaging where they shouldn't? Mom finding it while cleaning house? Somebody who buys the book at a rummage sale?

There's so many possibilities!
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
For some reason, I think that Stella would use the feather and not think about Grace.
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Hmm...Well, Stella comes from the root word for star. If the names are symbolic.

And they might be, my subconscious does frequently layer things into a story that I'm not consciously aware of while writing.
Feb. 5th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful story! Thanks for posting it here.
Feb. 5th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I like your username and icon. Pretty icon!

I'm glad you dropped by!
Feb. 6th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
I would have to use it... :)
Beautiful story!
Feb. 6th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
Whimsical and I found the story hopeful. Your gentle touch brought the girls' friendship alive; I felt both girls cherished their friendship and felt a loyalty to each other.

What I really liked about this story was the way you showed the reality of dreaming--we all dream, but a sense of responsibility often stops us from acting to make those dreams come true.
Feb. 6th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Love the mix of prose and poetry. Very effective. I do wish she had flown though!! Think it could have been a beautiful climax moment for the story.

Good luck this week.
~Kate :)
Feb. 6th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I didn't want to make her choice too easy. As I was writing, her getting the feather and simply picking it, without thinking about what she'd be giving up as well as what she was reaching for seemed anticlimactic. (-:

So, instead, I wrote something that screams for a sequel.

Maybe next week.
Oct. 6th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
I was also thinking that Stella might use the feather and only think about Grace much later (if she still could.)

Thank you for adding me - I think I'm going to spend a lot of time reading here.
Oct. 6th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for stopping by to read! I'm glad you liked the story.

I look forward to hearing what you think of my other work.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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