WHEN YOU LOVE SOMETHING… • by Carine Engelbrecht

Twitter caught the story first: ‘What was that — a bird or a plane?’ Alex sat up, trying to remember which movie it had been stolen from. Ah, yes, Superman.

Promising, but inconclusive evidence. While he paced the patio, his insides churned with worry.

‘OMG, there’s a woman in the sky. Somebody do something,’ was more explicit, leaving him no doubt. Candice was at it again.

He sighed, summoned the butler and ordered a muesli smoothie with fruit salad for breakfast. He could do with losing about ten kilos, but over the years that had gradually become his default weight.

“Anything for madam?” Sebastian inquired.

“A full breakfast, I think. Lots of carbs and protein. Keep it warm. I will send for it.”

The butler raised an eyebrow. “Is it that time again?”

“Seems like it,” Alex murmured, without taking an eye from the screen.

Another tweet had just confirmed location. St Helens Park, on the northern side.

He tried to sound casual. “Her cabin’s empty. Where else could she be?”

“Inconsiderate of her, if I may say so… putting you through so much worry, sir.”

“Let her,” Alex said. “She’s bored.”

“But the risks. The danger. What if she gets caught, or shot down.”

“She hasn’t so far.”

Let the butler verbalize his fears, his secret insecurities. When you love something…

Once upon a time, he had been a red-haired geek whose source code struck gold and made him a lot of money. Fast, too fast. He met a beautiful woman and fell in love. Nothing serious. Nothing epic. Until a sharp corner on a mountain pass and the deadly plunge that followed wove a web of guilt and remorse between them.

Strangely enough, as he looked down upon life seeping from her pale frail frame, all he could remember was one Sunday afternoon when she had shrieked in exuberance, “If only I could fly! Then everything would be perfect! Perfect!”

Those words haunted him for a long, long time…

He opened a new Window, browsed Yahoo, Youtube and Facebook. There were a few blurry images already. Not distinct enough to be any trouble, but one never knew. He had his own network of informants. He had media connections.

Last time round, a movie director friend had claimed a publicity stunt for a soon to be released film. Did the public notice that the production did not really exist? Or that the man’s pet project got a very healthy cash injection a few weeks later? Thank heavens for the 5-minute attention spans of the Generation Y crowd.

What can money buy? A dream come true? A fantasy brought to life by the advances of science?

During the long months of recovery, she declared that her life was over. It took time and patience to convince her how wrong she was…

Around ten, the reports were closing in, geographically. He ordered coffee and had Sebastian bring her chair to the patio. He adjusted his binoculars, scanning the skies.

In the early days he had tried to control her, with the implantation of a tracker chip. Somehow, she got rid of it and disappeared for four days. He nearly went mad, but learnt a valuable lesson about trust…

He first spotted the cloud of activity in the East. She liked to circle. What always fascinated him was the flock of assorted birds she drew in her wake. Something about her, something she did, attracted them.

He drank the last mouthful of coffee as those wings flapped nearer and nearer to the patio. His red hair and his white shirt waved furiously in the uproar of swiftly moving air.

She laughed. “Miss me?”

“Always,” he replied.

The wings stilled and folded. He reached over with one hand to secure the wheel chair as she settled her useless legs back into it.

When you love something, you set it free. And pray that you are strong enough to play the waiting game…

Carine Engelbrecht plays guitar, writes and creates art. She has been a waitress, barlady, call center operator, craft market stall holder and film extra. She is a member of the Adamastor Writers Guild, a small Cape Town based group dedicated to promoting greater awareness for fantasy, science fiction and horror.

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