The Girl who wanted to Fly - Chapter 2

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Year 820 p.a.

Approximately two months had passed, Aira wasn't entirely sure though. Her days had blurred together into a routine of reading, sleeping and eating. She had made great discoveries and the tome had indeed proven to be the missing puzzle piece. Aira could now say for sure that there had been a time where the gravity had been dangerously unstable, to the point where people had been forced to live underground. The Followers appeared to have worshiped the gravity almost at a similar degree to birds, which was why Aira knew about it for sure. The tome had entire chapters dedicated to the gravity, though the focus clearly was on one thing alone - flying.
She was almost ready now. Ready to prove and convince everybody that she had been right all along. Throughout the years people had come to see her as weird and even obsessed. She was the girl, who liked the sky. The other kids used to mimic neck pain in a way of conveying that Aira would spend all her time staring directly into the sky. This was of course untrue, she only spent a third of her time doing that, another third was of course spent reading and the last she reckoned was a mixture of eating and sleeping, as well as the occasional conversation. But now they would see.
They all would.

She had spent hours packing and preparing the night before.
In front of her was city hall, her meeting would start a little before noon. She had memorized the room number and easily found it on the informative map by the entrance. It had been easy to find. It was a small room, but it held a round table with four chairs on one side across from a blackboard. Alongside the wall were small, and probably uncomfortable, stools for the public. Aira started setting things up, drew illustrations that should support her claims and arguments. When she had covered half the blackboard in scribbling, Aira began hanging charts and maps, alongside a portrait of a Followers' priestess she had spent hours drawing from imagination. She had practiced what to say countless times and was pretty sure she could recite it in her sleep. Her stomach was fluttering about and she felt giddy imagining how stunned and taken aback the community would be.
Looking outside she determined it was almost noon judging by the position of the sun. They were late.
Finally the door handle jittered and in came a stocky man, who seemed to be composed out of equal part tummy and equal part beard. He was wearing a knitted sweater and shorts. He didn't seem like an official. He seemed very judgemental nonetheless, from the moment he stepped inside the room he sent her evil glances and glared at her scribblings. Aira was relieved, when the mean man sat down on one of the stools. She hoped they was as uncomfortable as they looked.
A few minutes passed, where Aira pretended to not notice the man, while he stared her down and snickered at her material. At last the four officials arrived, excusing their lateness dismissively. Once seated and ready, a groomed woman waved her to start. With a deep breath Aira started explaining why they should fund her expedition to the ancient nesting grounds of the Followers of the Bird.

"They laughed at me", Aira exclaimed as she paced the kitchen. Her dad was busy cooking and had his back to her, as he stirred the pot and chopped roots at the same time.
"They told me they couldn't fund fairy tales", she continued, conveying emotion through large arm movements.
"They ...they laughed", she repeated, but this time it ended in a high pitch sob. This made her dad stop what he was doing, he hugged her, rocking her back and forth.
"Shh, my darling", he said in a calming voice. "They just weren't ready for your brilliancy", he said. Aira knew he was right, but it still hurt. She gasped for air as the sobs engulfed her.
"I ..I just ... worked so hard!", she finally managed to say, before hiding her face against his shoulder. Her crying had drawn her mom and sister to the room and they approached slowly.
"I take it was a no", her mom said in the same soft voice as her dad. She could feel him nod. A smaller and more delicate hand patted her hair, her sister.
"They were so mean", Aira sobbed. "They said I made it all up", she continued between the sobs. It might not have been audible to anybody but her.
"And then there was this mean man ..he was fat and all beard. He didn't laugh, but said I better stop telling lies ..he said ..that-that they'll be watchi-", Aira broke down completely and her words drown in tears.
"There, there", her dad said. "Shh".
Sudden warmth embraced her and Aira realized it wasn't just her dad who was hugging her, but both her mom and sister.
It helped, they almost made her forget.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first.
She woke up, continued reading despite the official refusal, ate when food was served and slept when she became tired. She started studying downstairs in the living room and her family appreciated her company.
One morning her sister returned immediately after having just left for school.
"There's a man outside", she said to her mom, who hadn't left for work yet. She went to the door and looked out. After a moment of silence, Aira got up from the table, and her breakfast, to joined them. Across the road was the stocky man from the meeting. When he saw her, he reached behind his back and held up a sign: "Silence the liar", it read.
Aira froze and she felt her mom and sister having a similar reaction. Attach to the bottom of the sign was a thick stick. Without looking away from her, the man walked forward and only stopped when he reached their front garden. He maintained eye contact with Aira as he started hammering down the sign in front of the house.
When it could stand, he turned on his heels and left without a word. Slowly the signed leaned to the left and stopped moving when the man rounded the first corner out of sight.
Aira couldn't look away from where the man had been last.
"What on the ground just happened?" her mom exclaimed.
"Mom who was that man?" her sister asked in her small voice. Aira knew, but she couldn't make her tongue move.
"I've no idea", her mom admitted. Later that day Aira finally managed to tell her.

The man returned everyday of the week. Not at the same hour, so Aira never really knew if he would be waiting outside. He started leaving letters in the postbox, write things on the pavement with chalk and of course put up more signs. She couldn't fathom what he had against her and her quest for knowledge and answers. It was harmless, she wasn't hurting anybody. But his message was clear, and became clearer as the days passed: she should be stopped. The signs started having other messages too, especially 'Gravity never falters' was a recurring one. Her parents were worried and her sister was scared to go outside. Aira didn't read in the living room anymore, but instead stayed in her room, which was on the first floor. This way she was safe from the fat man's eyes.
"We have to tell somebody", her dad said one evening.
"And say what? That a man likes to stay around our house with signs and write on the pavement?" her mom said.
"Well yes, it's harassment!"
"He's not hurting anybody, there's nothing to report", she continued with a sigh.
"It's not right", her dad complained, glancing out onto the street from behind the curtain. They had started keeping them closed. Her mom walked her sister to school now.
One day the man had company, and the following day more had joined him. They were all carrying signs and started to chant and protest. All angry with Aira and with her research.
Their anger only fuelled her passion, her will to find the truth. But it also made her restless, made her feel as if time was running out. As more and more people joined and made life harder for her family and herself, Aira started to feel bad. She had caused this, she didn't want to back down, she had come so far, but was it right of her to put her family through this? She couldn't stop now. Fat man or not.

She had been sneaky, careful in her planning. At first Aira had been hesitant, it seemed almost too good to be true, but she had to. It was an authentic priestess robe of the Followers of the bird. A real proof. It was what she needed.
It was a dark evening. The light of the moons was barely able to shine upon the cobbled streets through the clouds. They were to meet at the broken fountain. It wasn't far, but it was in a part of the town she didn't often go to. She had her jacket closed tightly around her as the wind howled about her ears. She regretted not bringing a hat.
The walls of the fountain was circular, but a big triangular chunk had broken off and scattered upon impact with the pavement below. The water had dried up and it had been years since the fountain had been functional. A hooded figure was leaning against an intact part of rounded wall, clearly cold.
"Did you bring it?" she asked eagerly, when within earshot. The man looked up slowly and a smile twisted his face, when he saw her.
"No", he replied. Aria froze. But he had promised, he had to have it.
"What do you mean?" Aira asked dumbfounded. The man didn't answer, but his hand did.
A knife
. Aria backed away. A piece of the fountain wall had found its way behind her heel. Unprepared she landed harshly on the rocks of the pavement. Hitting her head, the small square blurred momentarily. A figure hovered above her.
"No", she said impossibly faint. "You ..promised". The man didn't seem to care. He blocked the greying sky completely. A single stab of pain ensured her vision continued to darkened.

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