Temptation -- fiction by Jessica Wang
He was skeptical at first, not trusting the fragile feathers held together by bits of wax and metal. But he strapped them on anyway and tentatively shook them back and forth a bit, mimicking the motions of nearby seagulls.
To his surprise it worked, and steadily he rose, skimming above the rocky plateau and the rolling hills of green.
As he kept on flying the mountains that had been his prison for the past six years slowly disappeared from his view, replaced with foam-capped waves and soppy seaweed. It had been so long since he had seen the ocean he was at first shocked by the vastness and the surface falling and rising with rhythmic ease. Across from him he saw his father clumsily navigate a pair of his own wings.
The feeling of flying was intoxicating; it could only be compared to a glass of red wine. His father had given him a cup at dinner one time, and the sweet taste almost made him vomit. But he had finished it anyway, relishing the feeling of lightheadedness and fluttering butterflies in his stomach. Flying was like drinking but without the sickly taste. And with every flap of his feathered wings he grew more and more giddy with delight.
His father called out to him, warning him not to fly too high, and he obeyed, spreading his wings flat out and rejoining his father.
Yet the temptation grew too great, and he flew higher anyway, wanting to see the world grow smaller beneath his feet again. He beat his white wings faster and faster and soared above the glittering sea; the butterflies returning to his stomach.
The seagulls below him cawed, diving for tiny fish that raced across the water in streams of silver. In the distance a lonely whale took a breath of air, splashing the rowdy gulls with salty water. If he squinted hard enough, he could see tiny strips of unexplored islands, each one dotted with lazy palm trees and sandy beaches with sunken ship remains.
And as he flew higher with the friendly wind cooling down his sweaty face, he saw something above the clouds.
A girl clad in silky golden robes and a pair of bright honey colored wings danced playfully above him. Immediately he knew it was an angel. He had heard about them before from the gold-bound leather books about unearthly creatures and gods. They were eternal beings that lived in the sky among the puffy clouds. He had gazed star-struck at the detailed sketches of their delicate features and ethereal powers. But nothing could have prepared him for this.
This strange creature’s beauty almost blinded him. Just her gleaming smile itself started a raging fire that ate away at his pounding heart. Her tan skin smelled like sweet overripe lemons and her hair seemed to flow down in rivers of molten gold. Her bright laughter sent shock waves through his body that caused the butterflies to flutter and dance ever more furiously. Even the tiny twinkle in her eyes made the stars themselves fade.
Underneath, his father’s warning grew louder, reminding him yet again not to fly too high, but he was no longer listening.
None of that mattered to him anymore.
He flew to her, his mind was ensnared in her warmth and radiant beauty. Deep inside, the fire in his heart crackled and roared spitting out orange flickering embers.
She beckoned him to come to her and opened her slender arms, adding fuel to the fire in his heart.
And as he soared to her, the world below him seemed to fade away, the seagulls turning to small white dots and the ocean nothing more than a blue canvas. It all seemed so small and unworthy beneath his feet.
He turned away from the rest of the world and devoted his attention to the angelic creature in front of him.
But it wasn’t right and deep down he knew that. Something so heavenly and beautiful was not meant for mere mortals. Temptation was dangerous. He should listen to his father like he always did and ignore her. Still with every flap of his wings his obsession grew and so did his confidence. He tampered with fate and flew higher and higher, savoring the warmth he felt inside and greedily taking in her beauty.
She was now in front of him and the fire that blazed furiously inside him burst and melted into hot coals of scarlet shades.
Gently she stretched out her lovely hand and as he reached up to take it, his father cried out a warning one last time.
He scoffed and laughed to himself believing that his father was a stupid man. How could one so beautiful be so dangerous, he thought. He almost felt ashamed of his father’s mindset.
He turned back to the angel, drinking in her godly beauty. Her touch was warm against his sun baked skin and as addicting as wine. Slowly he leaned in breaking the strings of fate and pressing his pale lips against hers.
Then it suddenly became too hot, to the point that it was almost painful. Her touch seemed to roast him like the flames of a fire. He tried to pull away but her grip was supernatural, digging into his wrist and pinning him in place.
He started burning.
Her touch had started a fiery inferno that ate away his muscles and burned his bones. The fire in his heart had spread and engulfed his fleshy body. He felt nothing but white-hot numbness followed up by waves of blistering pain. He screamed and wept tears of pure fire that left marks on his charred cheeks as his wings broke and went up in flames.
Down he went, returning to the earth that he had looked down upon. The wind was harsh and slashed cuts against his burnt face, adding to his agony.
Icarus fell into the ocean and drowned.
Above his corpse the angel shook her sweet head. She, the sun, shone even brighter.
Jessica Wang enjoys feeding her overweight ginger cat and eating white chocolate. She has attended the Vermont's Young Writers Conference and has been nationally recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is the editor of the literary magazine Ice Lolly Review. In her free time, you can find her baking or watching Marvel and Star War Films. Most of her pieces are inspired from mythology or real-life events.