Icastar's Diary (V)
(Sorry for the long delay, she's been neglecting me again.)
15th day in the Shadow Garden
I begin to think that perhaps she is not punishing me, but testing me. I was lying in my room this evening, wondering why it was that she still hadn’t spoken to me, when something occurred to me. The doors maybe locked, and the downstairs shutters, but the roof is open.
I died with wings on my back. Open roofs mean nothing to me.
Except that since I have been in the Garden, I have wings no longer. I don’t know where they went, but the moment I set foot on the sparkling silver-green lawns of this place, they just fell away. I can’t say I noticed over much, not in the rush of the brightness of the stars, and the clarity of their song, or the strangeness of this place and my joy in getting to know Maskaoí, comparing her to the Kaia I adored.
But now, the longer I spend alone, the more I think about it. Where are my wings? Where have they gone? Now that I consider it, it feels so strange not to have their weight upon my shoulders, forcing me to stand straighter, threatening to overbalance me. Through life I learnt to crouch over, to hunker down and not just because of the weight of my misshapen back, but because of the shame. Yes, even though I lived with just one other person, I always felt ashamed. I knew I was different, wrong somehow. Then again, even if I had been perfect, I still would have felt wrong.
The island would have made certain of that.
Ai me, always my thoughts go back to that place, which stole my innocence, my sanity, my family and my life. Yet, in doing so, it gave me everything. And even now I still live in a memory of it. This tower, this very room even, is an exact copy of the place. Well, I say exact, but I found there are a few holes to its perfection.
(The walls are curved, so there are no corners, as such, yet I still refer to corners because of where things are.) In the corner furthest from my bed is my desk, where it has always been, and no doubt was when Icarus was still alive. Its surface is still strewn with notes, as it had always been, and books. The shelves above bow beneath the weight of the diaries and other paraphernalia. It is these that give away the imperfections of this place.
I was idly flicking through one yesterday - in search of distraction - when I found that the words were mostly nonsense. Some pages are empty altogether. It’s as if they have been restored from my memory, which was never perfect enough to memorise entire books. At first I found it endearing, then slightly disturbing that Maskaoí had obviously taken these things from my mind.
By flicking through them all, I could recall the person I once was, and the things that had so clearly captivated me. So many diagrams are wholly complete, showing every ligament, tendon and pinion of a bird’s form. It is not so very hard to understand the child I was. The longer I looked, the more at peace I felt, the more I smiled. Here is proof that I was more than just the Crying Child, I was obsessed with flight.
Yes, to me wings had always been freedom, and in the end they were, weren’t they? The ultimate freedom, for which I paid a high and heavy price. Yet I would have been happy to do so, in fact I did do it, knowing what it might cost me. I hadn’t known then what waited for me. Others would not have been so lucky. Not only did I have wings, but an afterlife to go with it.
I am so fortunate.
It might not feel it, being cooped up as I am now, but I know it.
If only I could find my wings once more, know what happened to them, then I am certain freedom will be mine again.
And I know it will be. That’s the strangest thing, even though my wings are gone, I know I haven’t lost them. There’s an itch on my back, around my shoulder blades - persistent, heavy. It’s almost as though they’re still there, just in the form of shadows.
I will find them, and when I do I will fly to her and prove that nothing can hold me, not now. This is a test, I understand that now. She means to give me the means to escape eternity. I’ll find it, and then I’ll look again and know it all.