GENRE: Urban Fantasy
The trouble with wings is that they're hard to hide.
Surviving in a city involves long coats, creative wrestling of fabric over feathers, and serious muscle cramps by the end of the day. Molting season is particularly mortifying, all the sidelong looks as feathers drift out the back of my coat. Normally, though, it's just a few raised eyebrows when people spot what they assume are extraordinarily wide shoulders on an extraordinarily short woman.
Usually I can handle it. Usually people gape, I notice them, and they look away. Which is fine, really. I get it.
But sometimes they say something. And sometimes, in my lifelong war for calmness and control, my inner harpy wins a battle.
One summer evening, I was heading downstairs to one of Scarletsburg's underground bus stations when a guy on the platform whistled so shrilly it stung my ears and echoed through the fluorescent-lit tunnels.
"Hey, dwarf babe!" He and his friends laughed, drawing the attention of ten other commuters. Newspapers rattled, and cloth rasped against the iron benches where forest green paint peeled into curls and flecks, and stained the concrete where it landed.
My first instinct was to hit him, even though I'd never been in a fight. The harpy package included the urge to do random violence, but I wasn't all harpy, only one-quarter. I clenched my jaw and pulled my coat tight over my wings and shoulders and chest, searching the crowded benches for a place to sit.