Authors: Titania Woods
âWell, how do you feel?' demanded Sooze. âOh, I bet it worked, you look all flushed!' She shot a few inches off the floor, bouncing up and down in the air. âCome on, Twink, fly! You can do it now, I know you can!'
Twink took a deep breath. Almost everyone in the first year stood to one side, watching her. At least Mariella and Lola weren't there!
âWhat are you waiting for?' demanded Sooze, hovering above her.
âNothing!' Twink grit her teeth, concentrating hard . . . and then suddenly
up into the air.
âAgh!' she cried, arms and legs flailing. She banged wildly about the room, knocking drawings off the wall and overturning a mug of nectar. Sooze shrieked and ducked out of her way.
Twink slammed into the ceiling at full speed. She fell back to the floor, where she lay in a crumpled heap.
âAre you all right?' cried Zena. She and Pix rushed to Twink's side, helping her up.
âOoohh . . . that hurt,' moaned Twink.
Sooze landed beside her. âTry again,' she suggested. âCome on, do it now before you lose your nerve!'
Twink shook her head, tears stinging at her eyes. âDidn't you see me? I almost went through the ceiling! It's hopeless! I'll never fly.'
âOf course you will!' Sooze patted her shoulder. âTwink,
fairies can fly.'
âAgnes Leadwing couldn't,' whispered Twink.
Silence fell over the Common Branch. Pix cleared her throat. âWell . . . the books think that maybe she was a special case â'
âI don't want to hear another word about that stupid Agnes!' Sooze rubbed a pink wing against Twink's lavender one. âYou'll learn to fly, and that's the end of it.'
Pix nodded eagerly. âI'll think of something, Twink, I promise!'
Twink managed a smile. âReally?'
âOf course!' cried Sooze. âTwink, you
to learn to fly; you're missing out on too much fun otherwise.' She pulled Twink to her feet. âLike the Flying Exhibition, for instance! You don't want to stay on the ground for it, do you? We have to get you flying!'
Nobody, though, had any bright ideas in the weeks that followed, and Twink stayed on the ground. Mrs Lightwing kept giving Twink extra lessons, but nothing the Flight mistress tried seemed to work.
âRelax!' she kept ordering. âYou're thinking too much, my girl. Don't think, just fly!' And Twink would clench her fists, mutter
don't think, don't think
to herself â and promptly fly into the tree again.
Meanwhile the flying teams practised every day, swooping high overhead during Flight class. Twink sat on the ground watching them, trying to be a good sport and not to feel too sorry for herself.
âGo, Sooze!' she cheered as her friend's team looped the loop in perfect formation.
Sooze grinned and waved as they flew past. âThat is
much fun!' she called.
Twink watched as Sooze's team zoomed over the pond at the far end of the field, scattering blue and green dragonflies as they went. One of the insects landed on a bulrush, beating its bright wings. The reed dipped down close to the ground, springing up again when the dragonfly flew away.
Twink groaned despite herself. Even the dragonflies flew better than she did!
Mrs Lightwing hovered up above, shouting instructions to the teams. âNow just carry on practising for a bit,' she bellowed through cupped hands. Gracefully going into a dive, she skimmed through the air and landed on the ground beside Twink.
âWell now, my girl,' she said, patting her blue hair into place. âI think the time has come to work out what you're doing for the exhibition, don't you? It's only a week away now.'
Twink blinked. âBut how can I do anything? I can't fly.'
âYou can't fly
Mrs Lightwing with a frown. âBut you'll still be taking part in the exhibition. I've a very important part in mind for you.'
âYou do?' gasped Twink.
Mrs Lightwing nodded. âI've been talking to Madame Brightfoot, and we have just the thing. While the teams are flying, you're going to do a special dance on the ground.'
A dance on the ground? Twink's cheeks caught fire as she imagined it.
âDo I have to?' she blurted.
âNow, none of that!' said Mrs Lightwing sternly. âWe can't have you not taking part with the rest of your year, can we?'
Twink didn't see why not. She shrugged, looking down.
The Flight mistress tipped up Twink's chin with a firm finger. âI don't want you feeling sorry for yourself, my girl. Where's your Glitterwings spirit? You'll do the dance Madame Brightfoot assigns you, and you'll do it as well as you possibly can!' Mrs Lightwing took to the air in a flurry of wings. A moment later she was shouting instructions to the teams again.
Twink clapped her wings together, blinking back tears. A dance! A stupid little dance on the ground while everyone else flew!
Sunny hopped over from where he had been pecking for worms, and nudged her arm with a concerned chirp. Twink pressed her hot cheek against the smooth feathers of his wing, wiping her tears away.
âOh, Sunny,' she muttered. âI'll feel like such an idiot! In front of the whole school, too. I'm
glad my parents won't be there â that would make everything ten times worse!'
Mariella's team swooped past. âDearie me, there's trouble on the ground,' called Mariella. âPoor Twink, are you upset that you can't do
Quick as a hummingbird, Mariella zoomed into a loop-the-loop. Lola followed, snickering wildly. Only Bimi stayed behind. Colouring up, she crossed her arms over her chest and fluttered in place, not looking at Twink.
Twink glared up at Mariella.
couldn't she just leave her alone?
Just then Lola came out of her loop, flying wildly and much too fast.
She crashed straight into Bimi.
âOh!' shrieked Lola as she fell.
Twink sprang to help without thinking, sprinting across the grass. She reached the struggling fairy moments before she landed, cushioning her fall with her arms.
âOomf!' grunted Twink as they thudded to the ground together. She slowly sat up, rubbing her head. âAre you all right?'
Lola looked dazed. âI â I think so. I got a wing cramp when I crashed into Bimi, that's all.'
âIs it better now?' Twink helped Lola to her feet.
Lola fluttered her pale blue wings, peering behind her. She nodded, and looked shyly at Twink. âUm â that was â I mean, you really â'
Mariella landed beside them, her pointed face flushed. She took Lola's arm. âHow nice that we have such an efficient
,' she said loudly, tossing her silvery-green hair. âIsn't it, Lola?'
She scowled at Lola, who swallowed hard. âOh, yes! Yes, it is!'
âIt's really just as well you can't fly,' said Mariella, smirking at Twink. âWe need you on the ground!'
She took off in a rush of wings, with Lola following behind her. Twink glared after them.
Couldn't Mariella even say
nice thing to her? Glancing up, she saw Bimi hovering a few inches away.
âWhat do you want?' she asked crossly.
The pretty fairy's cheeks blazed. âI just â oh, Twink, I'm sorry! She's so â'
âTeams together now!' bellowed Mrs Lightwing, swooping past and clapping her hands. âQuickly, I want to do a full run-through.'
Bimi's face was like a bright red poppy flower. She flew slowly away, looking back over her shoulder. Faintly, Twink could hear Sooze laughing with Sili and Zena. Nobody else had even noticed what happened.
Twink perched on a dandelion leaf with her chin cupped in her hands. A ladybird trundled down the flower's stalk, and Twink patted it glumly on the head.
âYou know, ladybird . . . I'm not enjoying school as much as I thought I would.'
Before dinner that evening, the school butterflies fluttered into the Great Branch with letters and packages from home. A yellow butterfly hovered gracefully above Twink, dropping a rolled-up rose petal into her lap.
âOoh, look, Mum's sent me a new leaf pad,' said Sooze beside her, tearing open a package. âI suppose Winn told her I lost my old one!'
lose things,' pointed out Twink with a grin. She unrolled the pink petal curiously.
said the shimmering silver ink.
Your father and I were so disappointed at the thought of missing your Flying Exhibition that we've decided not to go to the Fairy Medics' Meeting after all. We'll be at Glitterwings Academy with all the other parents and families, and we're going to bring Teena along, too. She's so excited she can hardly keep still!
Don't be nervous about the exhibition, Twink. Just do your best and we'll be as proud of you as we always are. See you soon!
Mum and Dad
âOh, no!' gasped Twink. She glanced quickly at Sooze, but her friend was chattering away to Sili and Zena about barrel rolls.
âTwink, are you OK? What's wrong?' asked Bimi from across the table.
Dropping the letter, Twink buried her head in her hands with a groan. âOh, nothing. Just the worst thing ever!'
âLet's think about this logically,' said Pix. âTwink,
can't you fly?' They were all gathered in the Common Branch, sitting perched on mushrooms and on the mossy carpet.
âI don't know,' said Twink. âMrs Lightwing says I think too much. She says flying should be instinctive, but that I worry about it so much that my wings get all tangled up.'
She tried to sound calm, but her heart was racing. What in the world was she going to do? She couldn't let her parents down in front of everyone. They were so proud of her! She
to learn to fly before the exhibition.
Pix nodded. âSo if we're going to get you flying by the time your parents get here, we need to help you not to think. You've got to be in a situation where you
to fly, and don't have time
to worry about it!'
âI know!' said Sooze with a wicked smile. âLet's push her off a ledge!'
Twink tried to laugh with the others, but it didn't seem very funny. Trust Sooze to make a joke out of it!
âHang on!' said Pix, her eyes widening. âSooze, I think you might be on to something.'
âOf course I am,' grinned Sooze. âI'm a genius, didn't you know?'
âSooze, stop messing around! It's really not a bad idea. If Twink were falling, somehow, so that she
to fly â' Pix tapped her chin, frowning. âCome on, everyone, think!'
âMaybe . . . maybe we could build a fairy pyramid,' suggested Bimi. Her cheeks reddened as everyone looked at her. âOut on the front lawn, I mean. And then Twink could climb to the top and jump off.'
âI don't know,' said Pix doubtfully. âI think she'd still have too much time to think about being scared. It has to be
All at once Twink saw the dragonfly from that morning again, landing on the bulrush and springing off it. Of course! Her wings trembled with excitement as she leapt to her feet.
âI've got it!' she cried. âI've got the perfect idea!'