I hear a woman screech a little way off to my right. Sensing her shock and pain even from here, I decide to get up and have a look. Whatever it was she had held to give her the shock, it had clanged to the floor again. I could see electricity crackling on the surface of the shiny cylinder. Putting a barrier around my hand, I bend down and pick it up, turning to face the woman and the person next to her. I turn it around in my hands curiously, looking at every smooth surface. Even through the shield on my hand I can feel the slight sting of the electricity. I strengthen the shield slightly and the sting fades away.
‘How are you holding that?’ the woman asks, cradling her burnt fingers.
‘I guess it likes me,’ I smile and toss it in the air lightly, catching it again with the same hand. She looks at me incredulously.
‘Well what is it?’ she demands. I glance at her sideways and see her name in her mind. Maria. I glance over at the guy sitting next to her. He looked vaguely uncomfortable and irritated, but it wasn’t me. Cade. I have to remember that they don’t know I can see their names and make sure I don’t use them. I look back at the cylinder. “Cade” is etched into the bottom of the cylinder in tiny writing. I hadn’t noticed that before. I run my thumb over the glossy surface again and look from the name etched into the metal to Cade himself.
‘I can’t tell you what it is, mainly because I don’t know what it is either. Other than it’s an electrically charged cylinder of metal. As far as I can tell. And it’s got “Cade” written on the bottom here. So it’s probably for someone called Cade.’ I look at Cade and he looks up at me with a look of surprise. ‘I'm guessing that would be you?’ I ask as he gazes at the metal thing dubiously.
‘But I can’t take it. Even if I wanted it I couldn’t take it, could I? It would just burn me, same as Maria.’ He says not taking his eyes off it.
‘Well it’s got your name on it and is probably therefore for you, and if it is for you, then I doubt it would hurt you, would it? Because that would defeat the whole purpose of making it for you. Now I'm going for a smoke, so either you take it or I’ll throw it out on my way outside.’
‘Just... just leave it on the chair, here,’ he says uncertainly, indicating to leave it on the chair where he left his laptop case. I drop it there and walk away, wondering if I should have forced him to take it from me, just to see what would happen. I shrug and exit the building, desperate to stretch my wings. I can’t hold them under my skin for so long. I can feel the skin cracking as my wings twitch with anticipation as I walk towards an exit.
Finally, outside and in the most secluded area I can find, I take my shirt off and gasp half with relief and half in pain as my wings break through the skin at last. I stretch them out and flex the stiff muscles as I admire them in a reflective surface nearby. Accuse me of vanity if you like, but I’ve always worked hard to keep my wings in good condition. I fold my wings behind me, but don’t bother to hide them, and lean against the wall, taking a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket. I light up and suck in the poison air, smiling, knowing the toxins will never harm me.
As I exhale, I get the feeling that I'm being watched. I try to shake the feeling off, but it hangs on to me. Sighing, I force the skin over my wings again, and attempt to look like I'm just standing here having a smoke.