Draped in a cloak grown wet by the rain, she lingered; it looked heavy in the gloom. Highlighted by the London gaslights, I watched from the quayside as she stared into the water with such intensity as to preclude a cheery hello. Instead, I remained sheltered by a convenient overhang shared with a small, stray dog.
The rain came down heavier then, more tsunami wave than tumbling stream. I expected the girl or woman or whoever she was to move and seek shelter. She did not. For ten minutes more she stood there, then tipped forward and fell.
I hadn’t time to think, one just acts in such circumstances. I raced across the street and leapt into the churning Thames diving down, down, down. The water negated my eyes, so I groped with wafting arms. When I clenched something soft and squelchy in my fingertips, I dragged it up to the unstable, liquid surface.
A passer-by helped me then much to my relief. A brave young fellow, he waded into the water and pulled the girl to shore where he stepped away a look of sheer terror upon his face. I hadn’t the time for such luxuries and leapt to the girl’s side intent on giving her the kiss of life that my army training had taught me.
I flipped her over. She was awake. Her eyes, a deep cerulean, met mine; they were so sad, so very sad. Her lips moved as of their own volition. They whispered, “Why?”
Ignoring her, for surely the freezing water had addled her mind, I made to remove her overly large cloak of seeming wet mink, and replace it with my own jacket. The young man watched us in silence.
Her cloak was fixed. Her clothing part of her. Wings she wore instead of garments although the elements had taken their toll. I stepped back beside my young companion and just watched as the girl dragged herself away. A trail of fallen feathers marked her path, the barking of that small dog her serenade goodbye.
I knew not what she was, though, of course, I suspected. And although her broken form brought tears to my eyes that left a saline slap upon my lips despite the incessant rain, it was not that per se that troubled me, but why? Why had she tried to end it all?
Only when the young man finally spoke did the scene have meaning.
“Fly,” he whispered. “Fly, if you can.”