I used to pray for cloudy days after my wings grew in. The days when I woke up and couldn't see a speck of blue were by far my favourite. The best days would have huge chunky clouds that overlapped and jostled for position against each other. Sweet, rounded clouds that pulled the world in tighter together.
A cloudy day was a secret I could keep to myself - it meant there would be a moment where I sucked through the clouds towards the sun and kept a perfect day to myself. People on the ground would never know that if you could just get high enough, it would always be a storybook sky.
Navigating that initial burst through the cloud was the hardest bit at first. It took me a long time to get used to the change once my wings were wet - they were heavier and it was harder to manoeuvre. I dried out pretty quickly, of course, but there were some scary moments where the bottom would fall out of my stomach as I plummeted back towards that hammock of clouds.
When I was little my mother told me that if I watched too much television my eyes would go square, that if I ate all my brocolli my hair would go curly, or if I played with it too much it would fall off... But no one ever warned me that one day my shoulders would start itching without relief. You never notice a repetitive itch until it's a few hours in, after that it's all you can think about. If the itch turns into lumps on either shoulder blade then you think about it all the more.
The last thing I expected those lumps to turn into was wings. Who expects to get wings? Other than an incredibly dedicated Red Bull marketing executive.
Once you're above that cloud layer it is always flawless sunshine. The clouds below are perfect white and unpredictably sculpted. The light doesn't dance off them, it teases them, skimming off the sheer layer of vapour and then soaring back up into sheets of illumination.
I didn't really get bullied about having wings. There weren't enough pre-prepared lines for someone who unexpectedly sprouted wings in their 13th year on the planet. What did you bully someone with wings about? "Hey you, enjoy having an incredible ability like no other human?" The best I got was being dumped by my then girlfriend, Emma, in case our children came out looking more like geese than humans.
They grew slowly, it took almost a full year for me to be able to fly properly. It might have been quicker than that had I not frustratedly thrown myself off the roof of ASDA when they were about 6 months grown. In my defence, they were pretty big by then and I had no idea they'd be so pathetic. The broken leg really hindered my ability to fly.
Not being bullied didn't stop people treating me weirdly though. It's kind of difficult to have a normal friendship with someone who has wings. It's like finding out someone has an awesome job - that's all you want to talk about. I'm glad I was English though. Not a single day went by when my parents did get an offer from some research centre or other in America promising untold rewards if they could just study me for a few months. I had a feeling that, had I been born in America, the whole thing might have been a bit more X-Men. England didn't really operate like that. I had regular check ups to make sure my body could cope with the extra growths but that was about it.
Learning to fly was incredible. It was hard work, but getting flying skills and a six pack within two months of each other was not really a downside at all. At first I didn't have the energy to fly for longer than a few minutes, but the stronger I got the higher I could get and the more I could use the thermals to stay up.
I watched so many YouTube videos on birds' flight patterns, I studied weather shows so I could tell when would be a good time to go up. Lightning is even less enticing to fuck with when you're only yards away from it.
Finally flying became second nature. Like swimming. It felt incredible. It was so fast, so exhilarating. It was always mindlblowing, but there was still nothing like those secret sunny days I kept to myself above the clouds.