To Use One’s Wings

The land of Nodd was a hard and rocky place. Encased on all sides by craggy cliffs, Nodd was hopeless and harsh. The people, like the landscape, were lumpy, misshapen, and gargoylesque. That is, until one day a young boy was born. The exact circumstances of his birth are a matter of much debate. Some say he was but a changeling, a forest dryad, a demonspawn, bought for an unspeakable price, to replace a dead baby boy who was buried in a shallow grave in the cellar. Others say he was sent of God–which god depends entirely on the epoch in which the storyteller is speaking. Gods change so often that I cannot be bothered to keep track of each God’s particularities and peculiarities. Regardless, give no heed to such rumors, pay no mind to such fantasies, and indebt no intellect to such stories, for any way, his origin is not our concern, and attempting to pin down details in such origin stories always inspires so much disagreement that we shall never get past the point of his birth. Suffice it to say, he was born–one way or another–and he was called Seraf.

Seraf was not like the people of Nodd. Where they were stout, stocky, rotund, mottled, and knobby, he was long, elegant, and graceful. He was not the dirt brown or moppy-bush green of the country, but the obsidian of the night sky. He differed in mind and manner, as much as he did in materiality from the people of Nodd. We could continue to examine each characteristic by which he differed, but it would be an exercise in exhaustion; so, suffice it to say, he was different in every way possible that one could be from those with whom one lives. And to come to the point of it directly, there was one difference which separated him from every other man, woman, and child in Nodd: Seraf had wings.

As with any other abnormal creature, Seraf inspired a polarized reaction from those who knew and greeted him. He was either demon or savior, omen or sign, blessed or cursed. Such discussions permeated every aspect of his existence and inspired in him a dejected and sighing persona. His wings were never erect and extended, but drooping and drained. Though his image excited and energized those around him, it left Seraf himself worn and overwrought.

People are always a bit unnerved by difference, and as time wore on the people of Nodd became wary of Seraf. And then they became suspicious before becoming outright hateful. Wings extend in such a way as to create great havoc in close spaces, and in Nodd, closed spaces are all there were. And so, Seraf was havoc personified. The shopkeepers loathed him, as did the mothers, laborers, and, eventually, the children. Whispers quickened as he walked by. Stones began to fly. In time there was not a soul in Nodd who would have kept Seraf around, aside from his own parents, who, in their old age, began to ail. It was clear to Seraf, and all those around him, that there was no room for him in Nodd.

So it was, that one night Seraf went out all alone, stared up at the sky–the endless black–brushed his wingtips along the ground, straightened his back, stretched his wings, took a deep breath . . .

. . . and began to dig.

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