“I made it just for you.” She held out a small brown package to me, her eyes bright with anticipation.
“Should I open it now?”
She nodded eagerly.
Tenderly I pulled the piece of string that held the package together. The bow came loose, and I pulled off the brown paper. Inside the package was a single white feather.
I knew I ought to say thank you, but the words wouldn’t come out. I frowned and looked up into her face.
She wasn’t wearing the eager smile anymore. She was wearing a face of resignation, of knowing.
Her voice was almost a whisper. “I made this for you. Before I met you I was a bird. My wings were beautiful, pure and white. After I met you I started losing my feathers. And when all my feathers were gone my wings faded. But I kept one feather, so that I could remember what it was like to fly. I want you to have it.”
I shook my head. “I don’t understand.”
She smiled and got to her feet. “Goodbye.”
I looked back down. The feather was gone.