There was nothing more exhilerating than soaring through the skies, with the wind beneath your wings, and the undeniable sense of weightlessness and freedom. It was not the kind of freedom a human could experience. It was meant solely for birds.
Callie lived for moments like this, where she could shed her skin and let her soul have free reign. Being a human was constricting. It didn't allow for someone to realize their full potential, and their full power.
The main reason she loved it though was for the peace and tranquility. There was only one person that could share the skies with her, and he never flew when she wanted to be alone. Correction, there were two people that could share the skies with her. One of them didn't really count as a person, though.
There it was again, that pang of guilt and sorrow. It never left her alone. She couldn't find a minute's worth of happiness without those two damn emotions interfering.
Shaking her head, she tried to push back the memories that were swelling forth. She was unsuccessful.
It was getting late. A small girl with fiery red hair was lost. She had been wandering around the woods for hours on end, trying to find her way back home. It was no use. The little cottage at the edge of the woods was nowhere to be seen. She couldn't even see the smoke rising from the chimney.
The little girl felt like crying; she was so afraid. But she wouldn't give up and start crying. Mama had taught her to be stronger than that, to think of a way out of any situation.
The girl walked around helplessly for a few minutes. It was then that she spotted a tree. It was the tallest tree in the entire forest. The tree was as thick as fifty of her widths, and over a hundred times as high. If there was anywhere she could see the cottage from, it would be from the top of that tree.
On her first few tries, she lost her grip and fell on her butt. It hurt, but she was determined to climb that tree, no matter what it took.
Finally, after much hard work, she managed to get a grip on one of the lower branches. Using all her strength, she pulled herself up until she was safely perched on the branch. Smirking triumphantly, she continued climbing the massive tree.
At about thirty feet off the ground, she ran into a problem. The next branch was a little too high for her short arms to reach. No matter how much she stretched, it was just a little too far away.
Not too be outdone by the tree, she scrunched her legs and jumped. She managed to get one hand on the branch as gravity pulled her back down. It put a lot of strain on her arm, and she hurried to grasp it with her other hand as well.
The little girl almost reached it, but as she watched in horror, her hand lost it's grip on the rough wood, and like a piano dropped from the second story window, she fell.
The branches her body hit on the way down did nothing to stop the fall. She was going down fast, and her body was going to make a fairly large inprint on the ground below.
She closed her eyes and waited for her imminent death. Much to her surprise and admittedly delight, she didn't hit the compact Earth, but a pair of small but strong arms.
The two almost toppled over with the weight of her fall, but her rescuer caught their balance at the last moment.
The little girl opened her eyes to see that her savior was a little boy around her age, maybe a bit older. He had messy dark brown hair, and a pale but jolly face. He looked down at her with concern in those mystical black eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asked. The little girl blushed. She hadn't meant to get embaressed, but cradled in the boy's arms, she felt like one of those princesses in the fairytales Mama always told, where a handsome prince would come and save the damsel in distress from the evil dragon.
"I'm fine," she said politely, "Thank you for saving me."
"No problem," he said, grinning. The little boy put the girl down on her feet. She brushed off the twigs and leaves that had gathered on her dress and in her hair. The little boy watched her curiously.
"My name's Frederick, by the way" he said, holding out his hand to shake. The little girl giggled. She liked that name. "Callie." She said, shaking the little boy's hand.
"What are you doing climbing a tree, Callie?" Frederick asked. "They're pretty dangerous if you don't know what you're doing."
At this, Callie blushed again.
"Um..." she said nervously, "I was trying to see if I could find my house. I'm lost, and I don't know which way goes back to the road."
Frederick brightened up at this. "I'll show you back to the road. It's not that far from here."
"Really?" Callie asked excitedly.
"Mhmm," he said. He grabbed her hand in his and started heading back the way Callie had come. She giggled again and made a mental note to tell Mama to let him stay for dinner.
And so the children walked back to the road, hand in hand. Thus started the beginning of a long and happy friendship.
If Callie could sigh in her bird form, she would have. It seemed so long ago that she and Frederick had been inseperable. So much had changed this then. Sometimes Callie wished she could forget this shadow business and have her old friend Frederick back.
She felt the presence of evil before she felt the thing itself. She had a split second to sense that something evil and dark was headed her way at hundred miles in hour. She tried to dodge out of the way of the object, but was too slow. The black-tipped arrow imbeded itself in her chest, just inches away from her heart.
Callie let out an agonizing cry as she began to fall from the sky. The arrow's poison was quickly sapping her strength. Unable to hold the phoenix form any longer, she reverted back to her origional self in mid-descent.
Her body wouldn't respond. Callie's vision began to blacken around the edges. Her breath came out in shallow gasps and she fought to stay concious. It was a battle lost before it had begun.
The unconcious girl with the arrow in her chest continued her free-fall. It was much like that time so many years ago. Only this time, there was no one there to catch her.