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“Well, we’ve seen how it can go wrong. Now let’s make it go right.”

Many sleepless nights of planning, sketching, and building followed.

The next thing her brother did was put her artifact on a triple-weaved leather thong around her neck.

Puzzle lay on the beach with her eyes closed as she felt the waves wash over her. She felt like after her accident, well, deliberate mistake, she should be afraid of water. She was. But she wanted to overcome her fear. 

It’s just water.

She splashed at some as if to remind herself. On a late summer day like this, the ocean was still warm.

They were supposed to be working on her mechanical wings together, and the tube delivery system, but she had decided to take a break. Altas threw rocks at the water.

They came here to be unobserved, on a remote stretch of beach surrounded by rocks.

“Nice weather today,” he said. Puzzle just kept attacking the water with her hand.

Sometimes, she caught him looking at her sharply but then he’d break eye contact again when he saw she noticed.

The sun was gliding down through some slow-moving clouds. There was only the sound of crickets and sea birds crying. They didn’t seem to need to talk.

Or maybe he had already gotten his feelings out last week when he seriously thought she had a deathwish then switched tactics to calling her an idiot in multiple ways. He had apologized but …

It still hurt. She looked up to him a lot and now she felt like her big brother would never really trust her again.

Puzzle also wondered why he was trying so hard to make the gliding system. Atlas had said something about safety and not repeating the same mistake twice, but it had to be more than that. He had deep bags under his eyes.

“You should join me,” she said, not looking at him.

“I have had enough water for a lifetime.”

His tone sounded really sarcastic. Bitter, maybe.

“You got something to say to me?”

“Yeah, I don’t ever want to lose you. You are my best friend. You are not just my sister, you are the person who most understands me in this whole world. Without you, everything would be colorless.”

Now she really didn’t know what to say. She rolled onto her side, away from him, embarrassed. Of course she knew that but you weren’t supposed to say it.

Mumbled: “Thanks.”

He leaned over to hug her.

Puzzle wrapped her arms and legs around him, flipped him over with leverage and dunked him straight underwater.

He surfaced very unhappy. He actually hissed.

“You know the rules. No hugs.”

Atlas called her something very rude.

“And I always will be one. If you love me so much, you’d know that.”

Puzzle strode up the sand and tossed a towel at him dismissively. He caught it, glaring. 

She stretched her paws, fingers facing her, popping her knuckles.

“Let’s raise the pump pressure and tighten the bindings. I bet we can get it to float more than fifteen boatlengths.”

“You’re ready to try again?”

Puzzle took off her necklace, placing the water-filled feather artifact in his hand. Atlas went still, looking at his hand and back at her.

“No hugging,” Puzzle reiterated. “I wanted to see you try flying, actually.”

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Published by Watercolorheart

Artist, animator, painter, writer, aspiring musician. Working on short stories for an animated series called Sparse. Pen name Lyn Mitre.

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