When things get too bad, Sarah Barker slips outside and lets the earth roll itself out from under her. That’s what flying feels like, she thinks: not rising, just staying in place and letting everything else pass by. She goes and roosts in trees and peels all the bark off the highest twig she can reach and sits chewing the green pith until she gets splinters in her tongue. By that time things have usually settled down enough at home, or if they haven’t at least the pain in her mouth will keep her silent and tactful.
“Where have you been?” asks her mother, once and only once.
“Out,” says Sarah Barker. “I went around the block.”
“I want to know where you go. I’m your mother, I need to know where you are. What if something happened to you? What if you were kidnapped?”
“Jesus, I just told you. I wasn’t anywhere in particular, I was just out. I didn’t go anywhere. I was just walking around. That’s not a crime, is it?”
The conversation goes downhill from there.
Later that night she opens her window and lets the house pull away. She comes to rest on the clocktower, and sits huddled there writing in her journal. It’s full of apologies; to her mother, mostly, but to everyone else, too.
I don’t know why I have to fight with you, Sarah Barker writes. I don’t want to. You try so hard.
There’s a dark tangle of pain threading its way through her lungs and she doesn’t know how to deal with it. She goes flying and the pain beats its wings against the cage of her ribs, so-fast like a canary with nightfrights. No matter how fast everything spins away the wings beat, beat, beat inside her, bearing her up and away.