Barbara has seen three gruesome wars and multiple economic depressions. She had witnessed decades of societal changes and dozens of presidential races. She watched friends around her slowly wither away until death overcame them. She lost her husband to cancer. She had even watched two of her sons take their own lives.
Through it all, Barbara remained resilient and continued along her path of creating a better world for her descendants. Her body was ready to leave the earth and decay in the dirt, but her mind and spirit still had much work to accomplish.
“Are you ready, Mrs. Kelsey?” The nurse asked gently and held out a cold, soft hand.
Barbara nodded her head and grabbed the nurse’s hand.
“Are you afraid?” Asked the nurse.
“No. If it is my time to go, I will not argue.” Barbara clenched the rosary in her hand and brought it to her face. Silently, she said a prayer.
The nurse took Barbara to a room down the hall of the serpentine hospital. The room was white and reeked of sterilization. In the center sat a clean metal table.
The nurse helped Barbara lie down on the table and then asked one more time, “Are you certain?”
Barbara said one final prayer and sighed, “Yes.”
The nurse injected a clear liquid into Barbara’s neck. Peaceful sleep overcame her.
“Alright, we are all finished.”
Barbara couldn’t see anything but blackness, but she began to register voices all around.
The wings of steel were the first appendage she felt. She felt them, as if they were her own. They were her own. And for the first time in her life, it was time to fly.
It was time to fly away from the life that had beaten her down day by day. It was time to fly away from the institutions that had failed her and the people who left her high and dry.
Barbara’s vision finally began to clear. Her vision went from blurry to immaculate perfection – every tiny detail in the surgical room was sharp and defined. Nurses walked around the room covered in scrubs, gloves, and masks.
And then Barbara saw her new shiny vessel. Gone were the days of barely getting around on two twice replaced hips and wretched knees. The days of flight were coming. Barbara’s birdlike body shimmered under the surgical lights. She brought her wings into view and smiled with her newly placed beak.
“Goodbye,” Barbara whispered as she spread her mechanical wings across the room. Glass shattered and nurses screamed out in shock.
Flapping the powerful appendages, Barbara rose from the gurney and shot up through the foam ceiling panels. She broke through to the next floor up and sped towards the first widow in sight. People all around screamed and ran, but Barbara was determined.
She steeled her body and closed her eyes as she braced for impact with the glass. She barely even felt the widow shatter all around her polished frame.
Feeling the sunlight hit her new feathers of steel, Barabara opened her eyes and saw the sun for the first time in weeks.
She flew towards the sun, smiling and radiating freedom the entire time.