The place where they fell was nothing but corn and stars, the two trading places rapidly in Yola’s vision as they tumbled through the thick stalks. Her arms were wrapped around Calvin, so tight she could feel the tension in every muscle. Her feathered wings were wrapped around both of them, and with every bounce off the earth a new place hurt. Silently, in broken and jumbled thoughts, she prayed to whatever god was out there listening. If something broke, they might never get out of this cornfield alive.
Finally their momentum ran out with one last slow tumble. They stopped with Yola on her back and Calvin on top of her, still strapped into the tandem harness. Afraid of finding a break the hard way, Yola began to pull her wings up and away from them in a slow, fluid motion. The stars above them popped into the black sky. There were some bits that were sore. She was going to bruise for sure. But nothing felt broken. Positives, focus on the positives. Well, that would be easier if Calvin stopped screaming.
“Hey, we’re on…we’re ON the GROUND NOW. YOU CAN STOP SCREAMING.”
Calvin didn’t stop screaming. He did start trying to scramble off her and get away. Something infinitely easier without the tandem harness. Rolling her eyes, she found the latches at either side and unlocked them. Yola doubted he even noticed why he was finally able to pull away, to stand up, to walk backwards away from her across the corn they had broken. Yola thought about screaming at him to stop screaming again, but the irony was too much. He’d run out of steam eventually. Right?
While he had his little panic attack, Yola stood up. She tested her arms and legs. Bent at the waist and stood up straight, then rolled her neck. There wasn’t enough room in the corn to spread out her wings to fully check them, but as far as she could tell they were okay. Her feathers were a little ruffled, and there were corn stalk leaves stuck in them. In her hair, too, stuck in her thick and fluffy braids. She had gotten all the green bits she could find and was beginning to check her pockets when Calvin finally ran out of noise to make.
Yola held her hands out. “What the fuck, dude?”
“You’re asking me that?” Besides having a bloodless fishy look that was not helped by the rapid way he opened and closed his mouth, he looked fine. There wasn’t any corn stuck in his hair. She supposed the thank you she deserved wouldn’t come.
“I hit an air pocket,” Yola said. “If you had stayed still, we would have dropped, like, twenty feet and I would have had control again.”
He made that guppy look at her for a few more seconds before pushing his blond hair out of his eyes. “How was I supposed to know that?”
“Everyone knows about air pockets! Haven’t you ever been on an airplane before?”
“I’m just supposed to know air travel and flying with a bird-lady is the same? I didn’t know what to expect! Is it the same? Should I have gotten some peanuts and an in-flight magazine?”
Her heart had finally begun to slow, but now it began to beat faster again. And she could feel the blush creeping up her otherwise pale cheeks. She hated how easily she blushed. But, damn it…
“No, I was just thrown into this, and-” He stopped. “Wait, what?”
Yola crossed her arms, her wings bobbing behind her. “You’re right. We didn’t prepare you enough. I’m sorry.”
Calvin shoved his hands in his pockets, his eyes darting between her face and the ground.
“There was a sense of urgency, I suppose. Not a lot of time…Thanks for not getting us killed on the landing.”
She turned away from him, hoping he thought it was to inspect their surroundings. It was, mostly, but a little of it was to hide the surprised smile she couldn’t suppress. It was the same as when they landed. Corn in every direction, illuminated only by the stars above and the hangnail moon to the south. It wasn’t close to harvest yet, the corn only came up to her chin. Still, in every direction she could only see the same thing. Darkness. And more corn.
“We must be in Kansas,” Calvin said.
“Nebraska, I think. When we were falling, I saw train tracks. This way. I think.”
“Train tracks? Can’t we just go back to flying?”
Turning back to him, she gestured wildly at the corn surrounding them. They had crushed some of it as they landed, but they were still tightly surrounded.
“You think I can take off from here? I can barely stretch out here. We find the train tracks, I’ll have plenty of room.”
Yola started walking north, pushing her way through the corn. After a few seconds she heard Calvin following, pushing the stalks and muttering. Most of it she couldn’t make out, but from the tone she could get the gist. Well, Calvin, she didn’t want to be out here walking through the corn in the middle of the night, either. Shit like this was why she hated transporting people.