Shihara (white feather) by Kuri

"You're really giving this to me?!" asked Meilin excitedly, as she jumped up and down at the side of  Penguin Park, with the fly card in hand.

"Yes, of course. It's my birthday present for you!" replied Sakura, and smiled happily at her friend. "Happy birthday, Meilin!"

"Arigatou, Sakura! This is the best gift I've ever received!" exclaimed Meilin, while still jumping restlessly.

"I'm glad you like it. Anyway, I should go home now, it's my turn to cook dinner tonight. Ja ne!" Sakura turned her back to go home, but after moving a few feet away, she heard Meilin call her name.

"Sakura!" she yelled. "Before you go, I have a question to ask. How do I use this to fly?"

Sakura turned her head to face Meilin, and had a playful smile on her face. "You'll see. Just wait." She faced the direction of the street she was supposed to take, and with her roller blades, sped back to her house before Meilin could ask any more.

"Wha-" Meilin started, confused and a bit annoyed that Sakura left her like that, without any explanations. She started to walk back to her house too, and stared at the card in her hand on the way. "Just wait, eh? What could happen in a few days that could teach me how to activate the card and learn to fly?" She sighed, and put the Fly card into her bag.

That night, as Meilin got ready to go to bed, she took out the Fly card from her bag. She stared at it for a while, and put it under her pillow. She laid down on the bed, and after a few minutes, fell asleep.

"Hey, Meilin, wake up!" said a light, feminine voice.

Meilin fidgeted, opened one eye drowsily, and found herself in the darkness, with only a glowing white dove in front of her. The dove was the only source of light in the dark, but its glow was enough to illuminate a few feet around.

"Where am I? How did I get here?" Meilin asked, with fear growing in her chest as adrenaline pumped through her head. "Why is it all dark? Why-" She was cut short by the dove, who appeared to have a voice of its own even though it's beak wasn't moving.

"Hush, child," the dove said, with the same feminine voice as before.
"Not to worry. You're just inside your dreams. I'm here to teach you the basics of flying, and you could go back to your own world whenever you want."

"You? Teach me how to fly?" Meilin asked, with Sakura's words ringing inside her head. "Wow, I never thought that this was Sakura's way of teaching."

The dove seemed to smile at her, and said "Now, child, let's start, shall we? First step, activate the Fly card."

The fly card suddenly appeared in the air, and floated in front of Meilin. She was undoubtedly surprised, and slowly took the card from the air and held it in her right hand.

"Good. This is the spell that you will need to learn in order to activate the fly card. Now repeat after me," the dove said. "With the magic of the air, give me wings. Let me go to the sky, and touch the touch the highest clouds above. Fly!"

"With the magic of the air, give me wings. Let me go to the sky and touch the highest clouds above. Fly!" Meilin echoed, and as she said the last word, sudden pain struck her back, surprising her. The pain subdued after a few seconds, and when she looked at her back to see what happened, she was awestruck. There were wings on her back! Two large, innocently white winds came out of her back, and the sides were majestically spread out on her sides like wings of a proud eagle.

"Wow!" Meilin exclaimed, and looked back at the dove. "Is this really true? I have wings!"

"Yes, my dear. Well done," the dove replied. "I'm afraid it gets harder here, though. Now you have to use your will power to order your wings to fly. Concentrate. Think of what you might feel when you are flying; the wind in your face, the great sight from above. The clouds surrounding you, the sun shining brightly. With these thoughts, you could get your wings to fly."

Meilin followed the dove's instructions, and closed her eyes. She thought of the chill wind blowing past her, the sun shining brightly and happily in her face. Flying alongside of a group of seagulls, just enjoying herself in the company of a breeze...

Slowly, but steadily, Meilin's wings began to move. Flap, flap, flap.
She still thought about the sky, but she felt herself gently lifted up from the ground. When she thought that she was high enough, she stopped thinking about the sky, and opened her eyes. She could see the dove in front of her, hovering happily and smiling at the sight of Meilin floating in the air. That didn't last long, though. Meilin felt her wings stop flapping, and she fell down to the ground. Thud!

"Oww..." she moaned, while trying to stand up again. She saw the dove flying lower, and landing by her feet.

"That was great, for the first time you tried," the dove said. "I would love to practice with you more, but however, it is time for you to wake up. In the real world it is already morning. You could always go back at nights to see me, and we could practice on your flying."

"Oh. So I could only fly in my dreams, is that what you mean?" Meilin asked, with her heart sinking slowly at the thought that she couldn't fly in the real world.

"You silly girl," the dove replied. "Of course you could fly in the real world. The dreams are just training and practice for you, and you will get instructions and tips from me on how to use your wings. You could also practice in the real world if you want, just be sure that someone's looking after you, okay? It could get dangerous if you fly off by yourself."

With that last word of the dove, Meilin's vision got blurry. The surroundings spun around her, and she found herself comfortably on her bed, without wings, but the pain of the fall still ached.

::Shihara (White Feather)::

"Wow... I can't believe that was all real," Meilin whispered, and got out of bed, ready to spend another day with her friends, but inside, she hoped to have some time alone with Sakura for flying, and for the night to come quickly.

As that day passed, Meilin didn't had the chance to talk to Sakura, but before she knew it, it was already sundown. She rushed back to her house, and got to bed extra early. In her dreams, the dove was still there and waited for her.

The next few days passed quickly, with Meilin going back to meet the dove in her dreams. She got better and better at flying, and finally, the dove said, "My dear child, I'm afraid that you have learned all I could teach you. It is time for me to go away, and you could now expertly fly in the real world," the dove sighed. "Goodbye, Meilin, have fun flying!"

With that, Meilin woke up from her dream to find herself back in her room, with sunlight streaming from her bedside window. She rushed outside to the backyard, and thought of flying. Wings sprouted from her back, and she floated up to the sky. She then flew ahead, among the early birds and beside the clouds.

"I could fly. Reach the air. I'm an angel!" she yelled, enjoying the wind in her face and felt in her heart that she would never forget this birthday. The best one of all.