I can feel myself waking from a deep sleep.
My limbs feel not quite stiff but strange, as though they have not been used in some time. In fact, they feel as though they have gone missing or been replaced by someone else’s limbs. I must have been sleeping heavily.
A breeze stirs somewhere around me and I can feel it quite plainly. It does not make me feel cold, though I feel as if it is moving me, subtly, back and forth.
“Perhaps I am on a boat,” I think.
I do not hear water, though, and I am quite sure that I am at home and not on a boat.
I sleep with the window open most of the year and as I wake up a bit more, I can hear the usual sounds from outside the house, although they seem closer, or turned around, as if they are coming from a different direction than they usually do.
There, there is the sound of the cars on the highway, but they seem to be coming from the left instead of the right. And the neighbour’s air conditioning is humming as loudly as ever, though a gate must be open or something, so that the sound is bouncing off it and coming towards me from a different direction as well.
An early morning car moves down the street and it feels so close, as though it went by right under my window. No, closer than that. Perhaps my bed has somehow moved over to the window during the night? I didn’t feel the earth shake. Or did I?
The leaves blowing on the trees seem magnified, louder than any of the other sounds, and closer.
Something cold, smooth and heavy brushes along my side and I jump, opening my eyes.
Instinctively, I try to scream, but only a suffocated whistle escapes my mouth. I am up high, very high, dangling from a tree, looking down at the neighbour’s house and the black finality of the street below.
Panicked thoughts run through my mind as I try to remember what has happened. How I came to be up here. How this is even possible.
Was the house broken into? Was I drugged and hauled up into a tree? Even in my panic I know this cannot be.
And then, that feeling again, of that thing brushing along my side. I tighten my hold on whatever it is that my feet have clenched, without even thinking about the fact that I am gripping something with my feet, and I turn my head to figure out what has touched me. Thankfully, it was only a leaf. I am about to turn my head to look for a way to save myself when I notice something strange about the leaf. It’s strangeness breaks through my panicking mind and grabs my attention. The leave is almost as big as me. It is a maple leaf, but it is huge.
As I am about to wonder how this can be (there have been too many shocks for me to absorb already this morning), I notice something else, even more startling.
I am red. All red. Red everywhere. Very. Bright. Red.
I hold out my hand to look at it, to see if it, too, is red, and to pinch myself. But I can’t see it. It isn’t there. In its place is a small, soft, downy, red wing.
My heart hammers in my chest to the point I think it may break through. And then, a sound escapes my mouth. It sounds like “Ma-rie!”
I hear an answering “Pe-ter” not too far away. All thoughts of my fear and the strange series of inexplicable shocks disappear. My sole preoccupation now is finding the source of that beautiful voice.
Without thinking, I spread my wings and push off from the branch with my feet. I soar up into the blue, over treetops and roofs, single-mindedly following my instinct.