Tink is seventeen and a hunk. That’s how the girls at school see him. That’s how he behaves. He’s outgoing, popular and gets good grades. But when he has to change for gym class, he occasionally disappears.
Tink has wings, but that must remain a secret. His parents know of course, that’s why they tend to be quite protective. He’s not allowed to swim or hang around in dusty attic rooms, because when he sneezes, the bandages that keep his wings together snap loose. It happened once, when he was ten.
During a family get together in the summer of 1996, everyone was playing in the attic. All children were really looking forward to it, because there was a big trunk full of theatre costumes up there, inherited from the time that grandma and grandpa had their own theatre. Boys and girls alike all enjoyed dressing up. When it was Tink’s turn to choose a costume, dust flew in his face when he rummaged through the trunk. He felt a sneeze coming, so he panicked and tried to control it desperately, but as you know, that rarely works.
Because of his violent sneezing, his wings burst free from the bandages that kept them strapped to his body, and they tore his T-shirt apart. They were now fully unfolded and clearly visible to everyone in the room. Their glassy texture reflected the faint sunlight that streamed in through the small roof window. Everyone looked at him wide-eyed. Some even gaped at him with their mouths open. Tink flushed red out of shame. He hung his head and did his best to hold back the tears. His secret was out. What would they think of him now? The only thing the others saw was a super cool costume! Everyone wanted the same awesome wings. Those who didn’t have a costume yet immediately dove into the trunk and fought over the first piece of fabric they found and argued about it the rest of the day. No one dared to ask Tink if they could wear his wings, because they suited him better than anyone else.
Although his parents looked at him that day with a mixture of fear and relief, for Tink, it was the best day of his young life. He was accepted by everyone just as he was, with his wings.
Seven years later, people around him might have a very different opinion.
author of the original Dutch text Grietje Y. M. François
translated into English by Nathalie Tabury - nathalietabury.com
edited by Christopher Dunckley - chrisdunkley.biz