Their voices were a broken record, spouting the same lyrics day after day.
Andy wove his way through a jungle of legs and feet, his view of the bustling hallway. From his bowed state, looking straight ahead would be like an upright person watching the sky all day.
He frowned at the sight of his locker. After four months he expected it, but could never get used to it. A single word shouted at him in fat, black letters: FREAK. His heart hurt for them, his persecutors. With such potential to do good, why choose cruelty? He opened the locker and a dozen small copies of the Hunchback of Notre Dame movie poster fell to the floor, mocking the hump covering his back. He dropped the flyers in the bin on his way to class.
“Prethent.” He heard the kids around him chuckle. Along with the hunched back, a strong lisp never ceased to bring amusement to his peers. A hint of a smirk crossed the teacher’s face as he called roll.
Sitting two rows back, Allison felt sorry for him, but would never admit she was glad he moved to the school. She was overweight, had buck teeth and hair that couldn’t be tamed. All her life, she had been a target.
Four months ago, Allison decided to kill herself. That same day, Andy started school. Her tormentors ignored her from the moment he walked through the door. Classmates that were hesitant to befriend her in the past, for fear of being ridiculed, started talking to her. Now she had friends, people she sat with at lunch and went out with on the weekends. She was happy.
Andy saw Allison grow from the quiet introvert to the girl who walked with friends in the hallway and kept a perpetual smile. Despite the torture he endured, she warmed his soul.
Today was special. School let out and three hours and miles of trails later, Andy entered a clearing. He crossed it and stopped inches from a two hundred foot drop. Pebbles skittered off the precipice and into the open air before falling to the rocks below.
He stepped to the edge, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath before standing to his full height, just short of six feet, and rolled his neck and his shoulders—they got stiff bending over all day. He let the jacket slide from his shoulders and fall to the ground and stretched his brilliant, white wings to their full length, more than fifteen feet and stiff from being tucked in tight so long. His muscles stood out under his tight shirt, with a large hole cut into the back, as he flexed and twisted, loosening up.
Eyes closed, wings tucked, Andy leapt from the cliff in a swan dive, falling a hundred feet before catching himself. His powerful wings beat the air as he flew towards the horizon, a silhouette against the sun.