It had been no ordinary storm. The sea far beneath is no longer an ordinary sea. No longer familiar. And feathers are gone or frayed. Each stroke is laborious.
But the sky is a new apologetic hue. And the low sun still extends warmth. The line between sky and sea curves slightly. The thinner air hisses slightly across torn tail feathers.
Even at this height, the island is nowhere to be seen. There are only simple features of sea, sky and sun. And there are memories. Very recent yet oddly anachronistic memories of ordinary days of foraging, of defending territory, and of grooming family. Memories that encourage fatiguing wings.
The busy life of yesterday, as salient as it is, seems an unnatural and distant fabrication, an imposition on the simplicity and immediacy of the minimal blues and golds and oranges as the sun prepares to descend into the sea. Yet these images of yesterday counter the cooling air as hopeful embers warming weakened wings.
But fatigue ultimately wipes the mind of yesterday. Yesterday is gently yet firmly replaced by immediate sensations, sensations that will become yesterday when…if tomorrow comes. Sensations that remind one of who they are. Even with tired wings, each downstroke is a declaration of an essence. Was it not an essence worth living?
Could there have been another essence lived? Could you not abandon…betray your essence? Could you not simply dive into an aquatic essence? Is the medium of air of truly higher value than the alluring blue of a dense ocean? Are its perceived dangers merely perceived? Do sky and sea not eventually blend into some pleasant new existence? Are those last rays of the sun a doorway into something vaguely immortal?
Unique and unsettling questions inhabit the dusk. But as long as there are questions there is existence, the existence of an essence to be pounded out by wings, if one has wings, against the air.
But as the blues of sky and sea and hope darken, so also do questions. Sky and sea become one. And what matters simplifies. The hiss of air through weathered tail feathers used to matter. Now it is only a vague sensation.