Read Flying High Online

Authors: Titania Woods

Flying High (6 page)

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Chapter Six

‘Twink, are you ready?' called Pix.

‘Ready!' called Twink, clinging to the soft brown velvet of the bulrush. The greenish water of the pond lay underneath her. Looking down, she could see a wavering, wide-eyed reflection of herself.

I am
not
going to be scared,
Twink told herself firmly. They had all discussed the plan over and over now, working out every detail. Nothing could go wrong.

‘OK, everyone, bring it down!' ordered Pix, waving her arms. A flock of Daffodil Branch fairies zoomed to the top of the bulrush. Grabbing hold of it from all directions, they pulled it towards the water until it lay flat.

Looking worried, Pix flew across to Twink. ‘Are you
sure
you want to do this?' she whispered.

Twink nodded quickly before she could change her mind. ‘Positive! We all agreed it's the best plan.'

‘But if it doesn't work . . .'

Don't remind me!
thought Twink. She straightened her wings. ‘It's the only way! And it's not dangerous – I'll just fall in the water if you don't catch me.'

‘All right,' sighed Pix. ‘Now, Twink, on my count, you and the girls will all let go of the bulrush. It'll whip back up in the air, and you'll be aloft. And flying, with any luck!'

‘About time, too,' added Sooze from her position a few inches away. ‘All this planning was giving me a headache!'

Twink bit her lip. She knew Sooze had been bored these last few days, but she couldn't worry about that now.

Pix fluttered above the bulrush. ‘All right, everyone, on my count!'

The fairies got into position.

‘Three!' called Pix.

Twink's heart thumped like a woodpecker. She screwed her eyes shut.

‘Two!'

Get ready to let go
, she thought.
Get ready
. . .

‘One –'

‘WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?' boomed a voice. ‘GET THAT FAIRY DOWN FROM THERE THIS INSTANT!' Mrs Lightwing buzzed about the bulrush like an angry wasp. ‘I do not
believe
what I am seeing!' she huffed. ‘Twink, get down! Girls, fly that reed back into place and get on the ground!'

In no time at all, the bulrush was upright again and Twink was standing on the ground with the others. Mrs Lightwing hovered grimly in front of the shamefaced fairies.

‘Do you have
any
idea what a dangerous, silly thing you were about to do?' she demanded.

The fairies gulped. Sooze slowly raised her hand. ‘We were only trying to help –'

‘HELP!' roared Mrs Lightwing. The fairies cringed. ‘And what if she didn't fly, and landed in the water? Are you aware that a snapping turtle lives in that pond?'

A snapping turtle? Twink felt herself turn pale.

‘I have NEVER, in all my years of teaching, seen such an
absolute disregard
of the school's rules –'

‘Please, don't blame them!' cried Twink. ‘I
asked
them to help! My parents are coming to the exhibition, and –'

The Flight mistress's wings were an angry white blur. ‘That's no excuse, Twink! You and your classmates should have shown much better sense. You'll all miss your next free afternoon, and spend it writing two hundred lines:
I will not do silly, dangerous things!
'

‘Oh, please, Mrs Lightwing, just make me do it, not the others, too!' burst out Twink.

Mrs Lightwing's eyes flashed. ‘Do you want to make it five hundred lines?'

Twink bit her lip and fell silent.

‘I thought not!' said Mrs Lightwing. ‘The punishment stands. Now, get back to school this instant, all of you!'

Her tone left no room for argument. The Daffodil Branch fairies flew swiftly away, skimming over the grass.

Sunny chirped a friendly greeting as Twink climbed on to his back. The yellow and grey tit had been watching the proceedings with concern, and seemed relieved that Mrs Lightwing had turned up.

‘I suppose it
was
sort of silly of us . . . but what else was I supposed to do?' muttered Twink, stroking his wing. ‘And now we've all got to do two hundred lines! Everyone's going to hate me, and we didn't even get to see if the plan worked.'

Mrs Lightwing flew across as Twink gathered up her reins. ‘Wait a moment, Twink. Did you say that your parents are coming?'

Twink nodded miserably. ‘They don't know yet that I can't fly. I know I should have told them, but . . .' She trailed off.

A twitch of a smile lifted Mrs Lightwing's mouth. ‘Well, I don't think turning yourself into a fairy catapult will solve things,' she said gruffly. ‘What you need to do is get in the air without thinking about it, somehow! Now, get back to school, before I make it five hundred lines after all.'

To Twink's relief, no one seemed to blame her for the long afternoon spent writing lines – even though Mariella and Lola, who of course hadn't been part of the plan, gloated over their punishment at every opportunity. Once it was over, the rest of the week sped past, until all at once it was the evening before the exhibition.

In the Common Branch, the first-year fairies drank fizzy nectar and chattered excitedly about the day to come. Twink tried to join in, but all she could think of was doing her dance on the ground while her parents watched.

Sooze nudged her with a wing. ‘Opposite! What's the matter with you? You've hardly said a word all night!'

‘I'm fine.' Twink managed a smile. She had promised herself that she wouldn't say anything else about flying to her friends, not after getting all of them in trouble.

‘What is it?' pressed Sooze. ‘Come on, you can tell me!'

Sudden tears pricked Twink's eyes. She took her friend's arm and led her to a quiet corner of the branch. ‘Sooze, what am I going to do? My parents will be here tomorrow, and I still can't fly!'

Sooze blew out an impatient breath. ‘Oh, Twink, not
that
again,' she groaned. ‘You're no fun at all any more, you're always moaning about flying! Wasn't it bad enough that we all got writers' cramp the other day? What else do you want us to do?'

Twink felt like she had been slapped. ‘But –'

‘Just do your dance tomorrow! It won't be so bad. I'm going to go talk to Sili and Zena about our flight pattern.' Sooze fluttered off without a backward look.

Twink sank on to a bark bench and did her best not to cry. After all the times she had cheered Sooze's team on and listened to her talk about flying! She had tried so hard to be a good friend, but Sooze didn't even seem to have noticed.

‘Hi,' said a voice.

Twink looked up. Bimi stood in front of her, holding two acorn-cap cups of fizzy nectar. ‘Um . . . you left your nectar over there.' She held out one of the cups.

Twink wasn't in the mood for fizzy nectar any more, but she took it anyway. ‘Thanks.'

Bimi sat down beside Twink. ‘I overheard what just happened,' she said softly.

Twink fought back stinging tears. ‘How could she say that?' she cried. ‘I know I got everyone into trouble, but –'

‘Twink, that wasn't your fault!' said Bimi. ‘We all agreed to do it.'

Twink wiped her hand across her eyes. ‘I thought she was my best friend, that's all. Bimi, do – do I really moan all the time?' She held her breath, waiting for the answer.

‘Of course not!' said Bimi. ‘I think you've been really brave about it. Wasps, if it were me, I'd be crying all the time! But Sooze is . . .' She trailed off, glancing across to where the lavender-haired fairy stood laughing and chatting with the others.

‘What?' said Twink.

Bimi looked down at her nectar. ‘Never mind.'

‘I know what you were going to say,' said Twink slowly. ‘Sooze is lots of fun, isn't she? But
having
fun is all she cares about. If something isn't fun, then – she doesn't want to know.' Twink managed a lopsided smile. ‘Even if it's happening to her Opposite.'

‘Oh, Twink, it's really too bad!' burst out Bimi.

Twink put her nectar down and hugged her knees. ‘Bimi, I
can't
do a dance on the ground while the rest of you perform, I just can't! My parents don't even know I can't fly! I'd rather break my leg and spend the exhibition in the infirmary.'

Bimi nodded. ‘I don't blame you. But
that
wouldn't solve anything, would it?'

‘At least I wouldn't be humiliated in front of my parents.' Twink rested her chin on her knees. ‘They were so proud of me for getting into Glitterwings – and now this!'

‘Have we really tried everything to get you flying?' asked Bimi. ‘Maybe there's something we've overlooked. Tell me everything you can think of!'

So Twink told Bimi how Mrs Lightwing kept telling her to relax. ‘She says that I need to get up in the air without thinking about it. But I don't know how to do that! And now we've tried everything, and there's nothing left to try!'

‘Maybe not,' said Bimi, frowning softly.

Twink sat bolt upright. ‘Have you thought of something?'

Bimi glanced quickly at her. ‘No. We just – shouldn't give up hope, that's all.'

Twink made a face and slumped back against the wall. After a moment she smiled. ‘You know, Bimi, when I first met you, I thought you were stuck-up. But you're not, you're really nice.'

‘Stuck-up? Me?' Bimi's voice turned stiff.

Twink laughed. ‘Yes, because you always sounded just like that! Like you didn't
really
want to be talking to anyone.'

Bimi looked like she had swallowed a chilli seed. ‘I – I just – hate people staring at me, that's all,' she stammered. ‘And people always do when I first meet them.'

‘It's because you're so pretty,' said Twink. ‘I thought you were the most beautiful fairy I had ever seen when I first met you! Your blue hair, and your gold and silver wings –'

‘I hate them,' said Bimi glumly, drawing a pattern in the moss carpet with her pixie boot. ‘I wish I were just normal, like everyone else. Do you remember what a fuss Mrs Hover made over me, that first day with our uniforms? I wanted to die!'

‘But you know, I don't think about how pretty you are any more,' said Twink thoughtfully. ‘You're just Bimi.'

‘Really?' Bimi's blue eyes shone.

‘Really!' Twink assured her. The two fairies smiled warmly at each other.

Twink glanced at Sooze again, and realised that she didn't mind so much now about what had happened. Maybe Sooze wasn't quite the wonderful friend she had thought . . . but she had a very good feeling about Bimi!

The two fairies sat talking until Twink began to yawn and stretch her wings. ‘I'm going to bed,' she decided. ‘I know it's still a few minutes until glow-worms out, but I'm so tired!'

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