I Have No Wings and I Must Fly

Kyle E. Miller

Story image for I Have No Wings and I Must Fly by

T he asparagoose dreamed of a twelve-spoked wheel in the sky. It was motionless. In the dream, he remembered the words each spoke spoke and what they stood for: the four seasons, early, mid, and late of each. But what were the spaces between? There was life falling darkward and then the rise of light—summer—where he was born and where he would die.

Summer, where he woke.

He swelled skyward for an instant, chasing the wheel, coaxing it to turn again, and then he fell back to the ground. Nothing more than a leap and bound.

He had no wings.

He ruffled what he did have: pale green spears running to pale violet at the roots with emerald leaves at the tips. Stalks, stems, but no feathers, no wings.

Once, the asparagoose thought, once he had had wings. Or was it that he would have them in the future, all at once, suddenly, as if in a dream? Once upon a time? It was all getting mixed up in his head again, not the clear cool draught of dreams, but the earthy warm mirage of the going-nowhere world.

Nowhere but here, endless summer as far as the asparagoose could see.

He was alone on a windswept plain, a green and violet birdbush among the ragged black stones and scrubby briars with flowers like stars made of butter. All alone, and yet he once dreamed of a multitude—a flock—and others he called friend, lover, parent. A mother and a father to teach him how to fly and where and when. There was a right time and a wrong time to be on the move, but, not knowing which was when, he was stuck.

A sudden sound like the breaking of branches shook the flock from his mind.

Honk! he cried. Honk! Honk!

A wagon trundled over stone and bramble, bouncing wildly, out of control and nearly careening into the asparagoose’s tail-spears, before taking a turn at the last moment and missing him by a beak’s length. He watched something bounce and fall from the body of the wagon, and then the whole thing was gone and riding recklessly into the distance.


The asparagoose waddled over to the flyaway cargo. On the ground among shards of black rock he saw a little creature no bigger than his head. It had six tiny arms, each with its own three-fingered hand, a compact body like that of the beetle he had accidentally eaten once, and big eyes reflecting colors from another world. The thing looked sleep-starved and bruised, broken by its fall. The asparagoose nudged it with his beak and then gripped it gently and lifted it to its feet. He noticed then that it wore a backpack filled with shoes, tiny iron tools, and scraps of colorful fabric.

“My shoes,” it cried suddenly, “where are my shoes?”

The creature stumbled and scrambled about, and the asparagoose wondered if perhaps it had lost its mind during the fall, or if it was merely blind. Regardless, he began searching too, and there they were: a tiny pair of scarlet shoes, toes pointed toward the sun.


“I’ve lost it,” the creature said, pushing his feet into the shoes. “Hitchhiking, I’ve made my way across summer to see if there’s any other season, and no, not one! None but summer and its long dead heat. I am sleepless. I lost my sleep in winter, and then lost winter.”

He must have been asleep a long time, the asparagoose thought. He had never seen winter.

The creature seemed suddenly to notice the asparagoose, and he pulled something from his backpack and pointed it at him. It was a shoehorn carved from black antler. “Carry me,” the creature said. “Fly me away from here. Winter must be somewhere, and with my wits and your wings we can find it!”

The asparagoose shook his spears and lowered his head, wagging it side to side. He let out a mournful honk.

“You cannot fly? Ah! Not feathers, but foliage! Poor twisted sport, you should not be.” The creature came up to him and petted his neck, where tiny purple-gray leaves grew to cover his pale skin. “They say asparagus is the plant a bird won’t land on, but they never said it wouldn’t land on a bird. Two dishes in one: the main and a side. Convenience burlesqued. What sick folk there once were.”


“What’s that? A saddle? We could fashion one and make as much progress by foot as by wing, given the time. You’re a wise bird.” The creature brought out its tools and began fishing about the field for supplies. “Itinerant cobbler, shoemaker, repairer of soles. I’m the Shoefly, pleased to meet you, and I presume you are the Asparagoose. The one and only, as I see it.”

And the Asparagoose felt suddenly enlarged as the little bubble at the beginning of his title popped into a tall and impressive point. He lifted his head to the sky and honked in pride. No one had ever given him a name. He had no mother, no father, no lover to do so. He was exalted. He waddled circles around the Shoefly, busy at work.

“I make shoes for fun and for friends, but I can make a saddle. Why not? Is it not a sort of shoe itself?”

When the Shoefly was finished, he tossed the contraption across the Asparagoose’s back and climbed aboard. The Asparagoose, uncomfortable at first, shifted his foliage, shook his back, and settled into it. He could get used to this. It almost felt good, like a hug that kept giving.

The Shoefly brandished his shoe horn and pointed it in the direction the wagon had gone. “Onward faithful steed! A steed is not a slave, but a friend and confidant. We will follow the wagon yet strike our own path. Onward! To any season but summer!”

And so they decamped and departed. The Asparagoose had never left the field, except in dream. He had only needed someone to tell him when to move on. He suddenly felt as his brethren must have felt before flight: that spark of expectation, the buoyant joy of the yet-to-come. He thought he might just lift off the earth anyway, wings or not.

For the first time in his life, the Asparagoose had hope.

Orbit-sml ><

T he windswept plain gave way to finer fields, and the Shoefly kept the journey light with story.

“I remember fondly the days of my cocoonhood,” he would begin. “Sweet blue-green days full of the flow of my own fluids, the pump and tide of my heart, the silence of my thoughts. I fell in love with myself all over again. I felt a stirring in my breast, the flowering of new colors, and then—ha!—I was born anew! I resurrected myself and the world with it. Grass never seemed so green.”

Or: “Titan and Auberon were a two-headed giant who shared a body and, perhaps, a soul. Titan was certain they had two separate souls, Auberon thought they shared one, as they did the body. They argued, fought, and Auberon’s head was cut open by a stone. He stopped talking, and Titan wept for the loss, and wanted nothing more than to be wrong about everything and follow his friend and sibling back to the wheel. But then, just when he thought all was lost, a new voice spoke with Auberon’s mouth—a vessel filled, the wheel turns—and Titan knew they had both been wrong all along.”

And the Asparagoose listened intently, clucking and honking at the best moments, all the while navigating the landscape of summer. They passed the rust river, running to sludge at the bank. They passed the smoking oak, forests of bird-eating poppies, wild cat-bean fields, and the great drone graveyard, final resting place for all the soulless husks of every winged insect ever made by humankind.

“Sometimes I feel old,” the Shoefly said suddenly. “As if I’ve lived a thousand summers and the only thing left for me to experience in life is death.” He knocked his scarlet shoes together. “Do you remember your cocoon, Asparagoose? Er, egg? Womb? Seed?”

The Asparagoose was sure there had been no sweet nourishing days of cocoonhood as the Shoefly had described. He once dreamed of a seed that became a crown for a queen, but there were three others left crownless, and he had awakened feeling restless and ashamed. No, he had no knowledge of his birth, only a vague sensation in his leaves that something had gone wrong, that he had been robbed, or else that his very existence had robbed something from the epic of creation. Though he had a soul, and knew it, his was a body that should not be. He knew something of how Titan and Auberon must have felt.

Honk, he mourned.

“Do not answer,” the Shoefly said, patting the Asparagoose’s back foliage. “Don’t answer, don’t think. Foolish questions. Don’t make of yourself a specimen. You’re a fine steed and a fine bird, and there’s no need for you to justify your existence to me, or even to the King of Summer himself!”

It seemed that the Shoefly knew that all was not right with the Asparagoose, too. His head hung lower, yet he still noticed the darkening of the world before the Shoefly did. It was a slow closing in of the walls, the ceilings, and the floors. The carpet suddenly rolled up like a toad’s tongue and sent him tripping along.

The Shoefly fell from his back. “The earth is turning against us!” he cried.

It’s not the earth, the Asparagoose thought with a shiver.

»Welcome to the All Seasons Inn« a voice said from somewhere, or nowhere.

“When did outside become inside?”

»Please make your way back to the front desk. All lost guests please make your way back to the front desk. Follow the yellow thread.«

Too much happened at once, was always happening at once: the Shoefly shouted and asked the bodiless voice about the thread while the Asparagoose—trying to ignore a moment’s daydream: a brief flash of yellow foliage, another season, his own spears gone bright *amber—*spotted it. A golden thread, a sun ray distilled, ran along the ground before them. It was one thread among many in a tapestry of blues and violets, greens and browns, oranges and luminous reds, but the Asparagoose grabbed the Shoefly and followed the yellow fiber trail.

The desk sat at the end of a long wooden hall. Portraits of ghosts hung on the walls. A chandelier threw rosy light on the floorboards. Seen more closely, the desk was a black box full of wires and chains, growing them as if they were its twigs and leaves. The maze of cables connected to something behind the desk, a presence no larger than a whisper, or four. Four whirling whispers, and they wore colors like wind-tossed gowns: jadepink, goldgreen, blackorange, and whiteblue.

“Don’t!” the Shoefly said. “No closer.” But the Asparagoose disobeyed. There was only one way out, and that was in.

»Welcome to the All Seasons Inn.« The voices shifted, twisted, dropped in pitch and volume. »Checking in?«


And then rose again: »How would you like your pillows? Feather or foam?«

“Uh…” The Shoefly tapped on the Asparagoose’s back and whispered, “Foam? We should say foam.”


»And do you want a lake view?«

That would be the third of many questions: twelve questions and then twelve again for each of those. The Shoefly answered as best he could, with the patience of a master craftsman, and only an occasional twitch of the eye. The Asparagoose gave his opinion when he cared to, a cluck or honk, but the whole process was beyond him.

“Just give us a room!” the Shoefly said, finally losing his temper. “Any one will do, let’s just be done with this!”

Chains shook, the wooden desk groaned like branches in the wind, and the cables glowed bright pink. »We were not made for this« the voices moaned.

The Asparagoose shuddered. He was afraid, and he didn’t know why. Something about the desk disturbed him, reminded him of something, the wires and chains and the tiny ball that now descended from the whispers and glided along the chains, gathering speed, losing lustre, trying to find a place of rest, a nadir, a home.

They’ve gone insane, he thought. Bound to bureaucracy, to tedium and mundanity, they had lost themselves. They were made for something more.

»I think we can find this soul a room.«

“We’re two souls!” the Shoefly cried, but it was too late.

»You’ll be in room 857463C. The keys will appear in your beak at the moment foretold. Please follow the yellow thread to your room.«

“Riddles and a number too long to remember!” the Shoefly cried. He pointed his shoe horn at the four whispers and howled. “I will see this to the end! A life well lived is the best revenge!”


But there was no yellow thread, only a confusion of colors, and as the Shoefly put his heels to the Asparagoose, he followed the only corridor he could, which shortly split into many, a labyrinth without doors or exits. The Asparagoose began to run, making fast for the depths of the hotel, the dizzying patterns of the particolored carpet beneath his feet almost as easy to get lost within as the corridors themselves.

When at last the Asparagoose stopped to take stock, the front desk was lost to the distance behind. The Shoefly patted his neck. “Where are we, my goose?”

The Asparagoose shook his head and dipped his beak to the ground. He didn’t know. It was getting to be too much for him. Was life always so complicated?

“Should we go on? I leave it to you, fair steed. This is no season I have ever seen. And yet, should we not find winter, and my sleep, in the All Seasons Inn? Where else but here?” The Shoefly scratched his head and then froze, his eyes fixed on something in the distance. “Look!”

The Asparagoose looked and saw nothing, but he felt a presence, four of them, and he was filled with an urgency, an impossible itch to flee, to take flight any way he could, away from the jaws of a beast or the hunter’s nocked arrow.

»Welcome to the All Seasons Inn. You’re here to stay.«

The voice from nowhere boomed and echoed. The Shoefly covered his ears. The Asparagoose honked and wiggled his neck wildly.

»Welcome to the disease of time. We were not meant for this. Here are the teeth of the lion hydra. The flaming crane. The ninth corridor. The grand finale.«

“They’ve lost their minds!” the Shoefly shouted, and the Asparagoose began to run, as if gathering speed for take-off, but he was going the other direction: down and down and deeper into the past.

They entered a great hollow hall. “Hullo?” the Shoefly called, but there wasn’t even an echo of a reply. The dimensions were askew. The place wasn’t as empty as it appeared to be. Katydid caryatids held up the ceiling, four legs raised, two lowered, and their wings made a vault above where hushed whispers exchanged secrets.

“This place is old,” the Shoefly said. “These wingeds should be my brethren, but I don’t know them by name or wing. Perhaps there are no names for them: new species or ancient ones, forgotten or yet to be remembered.

“Look! Birds!” He pointed toward a corner bright with painted wings and pale yellow beaks that gaped as if begging for worms and grubs. The Asparagoose had none and didn’t know where to find some, seeing as how the floor was as stoney as the ceiling. He missed the open sky, even if he could only dream of joining it.

Then the voice from nowhere shouted again, screamed, a tortured blur of voices: »This area is off limits. Please make your way back to the front desk. Please make my way. Please make way for the Queen. The Queens.«

The Asparagoose trumpeted a warning and threw himself into the trap of beaks, the Shoefly protesting all the way. The birds bit at his foliage, tearing whole leaves free, and the Shoefly lost his shoehorn in the greedy beak of an oriole, but then they were through and outside again.

They found themselves out from the ancient cavernous hall and surrounded by a meadow. But the meadow too was old. The wildflowers had given up their petals, the grasses were dull and sere, and the lone tree was a puzzle of twigs and boughs. The Asparagoose clucked and shook his spears, shaking loose a baby bird that stumbled into the dead grasses and disappeared.

“Outside, inside, and out again. One begins to wonder if one ever left the cocoon in the first place.” The Shoefly stood up in the saddle and shivered. “It’s cold. An antique shrine to the King of Winter? An egg laid by the Queen herself? There’s more space inside than out.” He paused. “Or was it the other way around?”

The Asparagoose shook his head: he didn’t know about all that, but he knew he was getting hungry. They hadn’t eaten for days. He pecked at the cold dead ground, but there were no seeds or scrumptious shoots, no berries or greenery. He had wanted to be outside, but not like this, not this dead realm with no name. Was this winter? Would the Shoefly find his sleep here? He thought of the time he dreamed that desires had a way of being fulfilled in such a way that made you never want anything again.

The Shoefly shivered, shaking the whole saddle. “I think I know where we are now. Some mad sprawling tavern grown by the cosmos itself. This too is but a part of it. A room for every soul, and a slumber from which you will not wake. A maze, a tapestry of time, and we’ve lost the thread. We need a clue.”

The Asparagoose didn’t have a clue (whatever that was), but he did have an eye for detail, a special way of seeing things as they are. Alone in that now-faraway rocky field, he had spent seasons watching the world. He had watched the sky, the flowers, the rocks, mosses, insects, beasts, birds, winds, storms, clouds, rains, and stars until he knew them, until he dreamed them. He saw them for what they were, as so few now could.

There in the meadow, he saw the clouded sky (four whispers circling there, pursuing one another, pursuing them), he saw this season he had never seen, and he saw the well in the center of the meadow.

“Huh,” the Shoefly said. “Was that always there?”


The Asparagoose leaped onto the rim of the well, saw the creamy yellow light within, and stepped off the edge.

Orbit-sml ><

T he well was as deep as time, and they descended.

The darkness doubled, and then there was light. The air burned gold. During the fall, the Shoefly had become unseated from the saddle. The Asparagoose bent his neck to pluck him up, but the Shoefly was rigid with fright or amazement. And then the Asparagoose saw the cocoons hanging from the ceiling like stalactites, stiff and deflated, and knew it was both.

“Come here, sweet dreamlets.”

The Shoefly spun on his heels. “Who goes there?”

“Spin us a pretty dream, sweets. Weave us a bright little spiral in the dark.”

“Double the dreams, double the dreams!”

“Crack them open. Crack their egg heads and suck up the scrambled dreams.”

The Shoefly jumped onto the Asparagoose’s back and shouted. “The only skulls that shall be cracked are yours! Show yourselves or the goose will honk and unhinge you from this realm!”

Laughter lit the room. The Asparagoose saw the creatures first. They clung to the pitted stone rafters above, their slender legs hooked and twisted to the vault. They had six legs as well as great golden wings, not the wings of birds, but moths, full of scales that fluttered down as they shifted and shook.

The Shoefly sneezed. “We need light. More light.” Then he yawned.

The Asparagoose honked a warning at the creatures above. He had no light and no way to make one, but he could see what the Shoefly could not: faces beyond the cloud of golden scales. Of beautiful men with golden green eyes, hair like the petals of dandelions, dusted with pollen gold. But their bodies were grotesque and bloated, their legs too thin and attached the wrong way, their tongues too large to fit inside their mouths and instead coiled like proboscises.

“You’re both getting tired.”

“Sleep, sleep.”

“How soundlessly you will sleep. How restfully, how softly.”

“Look,” one of them said, crawling along its perch and pointing at the ground. It had something between its legs, long and purple, draped over the rafter like a length of rolled dough. “Look. Pillows. Sleepy things.”

“Blankets. Books.”

The Asparagoose followed the pointing fingers. There were pillows piled in the corner, covered in the golden scales of their wings, scintillant and dreamy. Silk blankets, thick boring books, and even a kettle of steaming tea.

“Bedtime stories,” the Shoefly said, yawning. “They’re awfully thoughtful.”

Honk! Honk!

“They want to devour our dreams,” the Shoefly said. “Suck up our souls. They’ll leave us a body and nothing more. We’ll go on, but we’ll be inside their stomachs, blind and deaf and dumb. We’ll have nothing to do but think. We’ll go mad, sparrow grass, mad!”

But he yawned despite himself and fell back in the saddle. “So sleepy. Maybe this is winter. Our quest, fair steed, is over.”

The creatures stirred above, and the room became a storm of golden motes, blown about by their wing beats. The Asparagoose sneezed. The creatures giggled and cajoled them to sleep, to dream—one so excited it crapped, a black missile glistening in the mist—but the Asparagoose did not sleep. Was he immune? He couldn’t remember the last time he slept, but his dreams were not for thieves and burglars. They were his own, his window into the season of flight, and no one could take them from him.

He honked, calling the Shoefly back from the borderlands of sleep, and shook his tail-spears. The creatures cackled, and then the Asparagoose let fly the javelins of his tail. One after another, the spears shot forth and struck the sickly dream thieves in the wing, the jaw, the throat, silencing their laughter and driving them up and out through the well in the ceiling.

The Shoefly whooped and danced on the Asparagoose’s back, capering about and calling him a hero. “You’re perfect! You’re the hero, I’m the steed. You’re the sword, I’m the shield. You’re the wonder, I’m the fool. You’re the rider, I’m the road.”

Honk! Honk!

“Dream on, my Asparagoose. You’ve won the day. The harpies are routed. The door is there!” He pointed, and yes, there was the door, painted the bright yellow of buttercups. “Perhaps we should loot the nests. I could use a new shoehorn and my supplies are running low. Perhaps you might find something to snack on?”

The Shoefly leaped off and began tossing pillows here and there, stirring up the golden dust once again and making them both sneeze. The Asparagoose beaked about. He didn’t find anything to eat, but he wasn’t feeling very hungry anymore anyway. He found an old boot, which he gave to the Shoefly, and then a streak of silver caught his eye.

He pushed the detritus aside and found a gauntlet (it wouldn’t fit either of them), a helmet (likewise), and—what was this?—a sword. He grabbed the hilt in his beak and dragged it free from the garbage and gold dust. Brandished in his beak, the sword gleamed. He shivered: goosebumps. Something shook loose inside him… or was it outside?

The hilt was fashioned into a fox’s face, the blade one long fang.

“King of Summer, Queen of the same!” the Shoefly swore. “What is this? Foxtooth? The legend? From what stone did you pull this, once and future goose?”


The Asparagoose was pleased that he could honk just as well with the sword in his beak. He broke down the yellow door with his blade, about which the Shoefly would not shut up. “The legendary blade,” he repeated, though he could not quite recall the legend itself. He knew nothing about its origin, its maker, or its fate, but he knew it was one of a kind, fashioned perhaps for the King of Summer himself. As a fellow artisan, he admired not just the myth, but the craftsmanship itself. This blade could split feathers.

Through the door, they found a chamber full of glass cages. Beyond the chipped and cracked faces of the glass, the Asparagoose saw the husks of dead creatures, bones, corpses, and ancient exoskeletons abandoned by their souls. The Shoefly leaped from the saddle again and threw himself at the glass.

“Caged creatures! Might as well bottle death, put a cork on the whole cycle! Those sick and strange precursors to the rot of this age. To cage creatures they might once have been, might once again be! Knowing they too were once caged, in some past life?”

The Shoefly began to sob, beating his tiny hands against the glass. The Asparagoose wondered if he should break the glass with the sword, but he thought there were better uses for a legend. The Asparagoose nuzzled the Shoefly with his beak, drawing him away from the glass. He cooed.

“Why? What’s the point of it all if we don’t remember? What good are our past lives?”


But how could that honk contain what he knew to be true, that everyone did remember, and that forgetting was a choice? That no one could hold all the experiences of all the lives ever lived in their heads, but that you didn’t need to. Couldn’t the Shoefly feel them there, behind him or below? On top of him? They were all around, filling in the empty spaces with their laughter. The past lives, and the past lives of those lives, and thus all of it, ever, writhing about inside, as if preparing to be hatched.

Maybe he hadn’t heard them yet, but they were there, stacked in the attic of his soul. The cycle was infinite. The wheel held true. After all, didn’t he have some notion of having been here before?

Didn’t he have the dreams too?

He honked at the Shoefly and raised his breast, as if to say, be brave.

The Shoefly drew himself up and shook the sniffle from his nose. “I am following you,” he said, bowing.

And then the whispers swelled again. »All lost patrons. All patrons lose. Exit the ecodustem. Please make your way, make your way front to the back desk. Please make. Please make me.«

The Asparagoose could still see them, circling above. He saw them now as whorls of fabric, skeins of thread, weaving themselves or trying to weave themselves into a pattern. It was a spiral, he thought. It’s supposed to be a spiral, but it was only a tangle, the four thrown into a box and snarled into a labyrinth. One of them was yellow.

Was this a clue?

The Asparagoose grabbed the yellow thread with his beak and tugged. The Shoefly jumped on his back. The fabric of the world began to unravel, first a little and then all at once, until there was a hole large enough for the two of them to enter.

And they did.

Orbit-sml ><

T he place beyond place: The four whispers high above, chained to one another and to the Wheel, and the Wheel chained to the black anchor. The Asparagoose thought it looked like the front desk of the All Seasons Inn, but then he saw it with his true sight. He was ashamed, not at himself in that moment, but at some distant moment in the past. He was ashamed to be a part of creation, an epic that had ended in this enslavement. Life had divided itself from life and in doing so confined them all to the circle.

And yet, wasn’t one of those whispers, the autumnal one, mother of all tricksters, wasn’t she smirking, as if to say, this is all part of the pattern, this was planned all along?

It was just too much for one asparagoose to contain. Inside, something laughed and wiggled.

The Shoefly threw himself onto the ground and tried to approach the whispers far above. “How?” he said. “Why? Who did this?” He fell to his knees before he reached them. His strength was not enough to meet them face to face. Not knowing how far he had left to go, he couldn’t make it.

The whispers became voices, became queens.

“We are the Queens of all seasons. We are the beginning and the end. We are losing our minds. The season cycle has stopped. The earth is stuck. Mind and body have been cloven in two. All is at odds with itself. Past and future, feeling and thought. Souls have dispersed wildly, rapidly, disseminating across the constellation of bodies.

“This has never happened before. But something like it has.

“There’s always a stagnation. There’s always a goose.

“There’s always a spiral. There’s always a fox.

“It’s time,” they said in unison. “This is when the world happens.”

The Asparagoose had once dreamed of what he was meant to do in the end, but in his dreams, he always had the means to do it. He always had wings. But here, the Queens were chained so high above, out of reach

“Bring the souls back,” they said. “Bring them back to the fold. Merge mind and body once again. They’ve forgotten too much. Erase them. Turn the wheel.”

The Asparagoose knew that to do so would be to lose something of himself, if not the whole: the ultimate magic act: allowing the world to transform him so that he might transform the world. He was afraid what he would become. But mostly, he was afraid that he might lose the Shoefly, that he might, indeed, cause the Shoefly, his only friend, his flock, to lose his soul.

He nudged the Shoefly, and threaded his neck between his arms.


“Yes, sparrow grass, yes. I knew. I had some inkling. I weep not for the fate of the world, but for you. My favorite foul. My favorite vegetable. Dear, dear goose.” He snuffled and then stood tall. He was being brave. “Itinerant healer, worldmaker, repairer of souls, I give you my life so that you may add my body and soul to the next world. Onward, faithful friend! To any season but summer.”

Honk! Honk!

The Asparagoose pulled him close in the crook of his neck and felt a spear fall from his tail. He took it in his beak and handed it to the Shoefly: a shoehorn, green as his dreams. Just in case.

The Asparagoose stepped up to the Queens, sword in beak, as they spoke.

“The first winter will break your heart.

“The first spring will rebuild it.

“The first autumn will kill you.

“But in the summer, you’ll swear you’ll live forever.

“Are you sure?”


He positioned Foxtooth in front of him, his foot on the hilt, the point at his breast.

“No one will remember, not for a long time. There will be no souls, no vessels, all life will be in one moment, no past selves, no future selves. But there will be seasons again, and beings will remember. The smallest elements of our experience will remember. They will remember all the beings of which they have been a part: all the beings that ever were and ever will be.

“Are you ready?”

The Asparagoose nodded.

“Then fly.”

He was alone on a windswept plain, and then he wasn’t alone and never had been. Attended by everything that ever had wings and ever would—the gulls, the corvids, the raptors, the songbirds and grebes, the owls, the shorebirds, the cranes and toucans, the bats, the locusts, the grasshoppers and dragonflies, the mosquitos, the beetles and flies, the wasps, the bees, the bugs, the butterflies, the flying ants, the cicadas and the crickets, the flying fish, the flying squirrels, the flying monkeys, the griffons and pegasi, the garudas, the rocs, the sphinxes, the wyverns and gargoyles, the lumasi and the minokawas, the simurghs, the fenghuang, the faeries, the pterosaurs, the winged trees of Galleon, the sailing flowers and floating waterseeds, the soaring queens, the dragons and the geese—he fell onto the sword, cracked his body open, and spilled into the world the contents of the cosmic egg.

With his flock, he performed the greatest magic trick of all, nothing less than the total transubstantiation of the cosmos.

He was the uncreator and the creator.

And on that day, everything changed.

The wheel turned, broke free of itself, and began to spiral upward. The Queens, unchained, fled. Summer was finally put to bed. The body was no longer a vessel for the soul, and the soul was no longer a hitchhiker in the body. Instead, they were one.

And somewhere, at some later time, a wingless someone remembered what it was like to fly once upon a time.


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Kyle E. Miller

Author image of Kyle E. Miller Thrown out of Fairyland for crimes against the Realm, Kyle E. Miller is a naturalist and moral philosopher living in Michigan. He can usually be found in the dunes or forests, turning up logs looking for life. Past incarnations include zookeeper, video game critic, retail manager, stablehand, and writing tutor. His fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, and Honey & Sulphur. You can find more at www.kyle-e-miller.com.

© Kyle E. Miller 2021 All Rights Reserved

The title picture was created using Creative Commons images - many thanks to the following creators: music4life, Wolfgang_Hasselmann, Free-Photos, and Shutterbug75.

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