By Frampton Jones
I do not think Ssieth Anabuki ever intended to fly with those wings. They were, I thought, a rather charming creation – an act of colourful whimsy in defiance of this grey and doleful world. Seeing the wings flutter by whenever she passed me in the street always brightened my day a little.
I have not found any witnesses who know how the situation arose. The first any of us knew that strangeness was afoot, Sseith was already airborne. I assumed it was deliberate – and more likely some act of uncanny magic than of science, for there was nothing mechanical in the wings to suggest they might carry a person into the skies.
I have, over the years, watched many people try to leave the island. There have been many deliberate attempts at flying machines and wings. The best of them have barely managed a few feet in altitude or more than a few yards in distance. I feel that I have something of an eye for these things, and I say those wings were only ever ornamental and that something else occurred. Perhaps Ssieth invoked something, or attracted something, or had quietly taken up experimental occultism. If a boat can be persuaded to take to the skies, then why not such wings as these? Who can say what arcane rules govern the possibilities?
She flew, and for a while, it was glorious to behold. Surely, just for once in this miserable place we might be allowed a moment of beauty without disaster following close upon its heels? But no. As she rose, she disappeared into the clouds, and for an uneasy moment, it almost looked as though the fog had wrapped itself around her, forming into an impossible hand. It seemed, to my eye at least, as though she was thrown from the sky. I have been told that I have an over-active imagination and read too much into the shapes of clouds, but there it is. As a witness, this is my evidence.
Perspicacity Jones told me, by way of contrast “She went up, and then she went down. Like someone doing a really big jump.” So there’s a more prosaic take on the tragedy.
Reverend Davies said: “This is why I counsel people against the use of sorcery. It never ends well.” Which I’m sure will be a comfort to us all.
After viewing the remains, Doc Willoughby told me, “It appears that her appendix burst.” In fairness, it probably had.
We made a cairn where she fell. It seemed more dignified than the available alternatives.