This is the second round of Tracklist Thursday, where I try to make a coherent story out of the song titles on an album. This will be less regular than Photo Friday and may not happen every week. Feel free to suggest albums. Thanks to Andy Walser for commenting on my Blank Space Tracklist Thursday to suggest this album.
Nina was pretty disappointed with her wings when they first appeared, to be honest. It was four months to the day before she turned sixteen, as predicted, and she'd been hoping they'd be a little more, well, impressive. Three girls in her class had those stereotypical white wings, huge ones, and though they spent all their time complaining about how awkward they were to cart around, she was secretly jealous.
The wings made up for their appearance (tarnished silver, spindly, texture like lace and wire) with their function, thankfully. She could finally fly, and better than many of the girls with the flashier wings. Her father tried to call her Nifty Nina, but that was probably the most embarrassing thing she'd ever heard so she just groaned and ignored him.
She flew to first class just because she could, and was delighted to find that the chair automatically accommodated her wings. They spent most of that class being lectured to about the Heart of Gold they were supposed to be cultivating. She would almost rather have been in the other classes, where they got to punish the bad eggs.
She waited in the Square after class for Donatella, a friend with wings only slightly bigger than hers but much fluffier. "Light Me Up," Donatella said. "Please." She then pretended to faint, and Nina rolled her eyes. Always so dramatic. She pulled out her stick and rubbed it between her hands until all three buttons lit up, then placed it over the ridge where Donatella's wings joined.
That was the downside; once you got your wings, it opened you up to a whole lot of vulnerabilities. Donatella was exaggerating because of course she was, but vedettes had been known to faint or get seriously injured after being drained too fast. "You should've done this at home," she chided. Why should she always be the responsible one?
It irritated her that they couldn't link arms, too. Unless they folded the wings back, and the mentors frowned upon something as unladylike as that. They were pretty scary, even just using Words as Weapons; they did have hundreds of years of experience, she supposed. But she wasn't going to mention that.
All You Never Say is important. They'd been specifically trained to know when to shut up. She and Donatella wanted to fly past the younger students, but that would just make them jealous so the vedettes walked. She caught glimpses of the third, rarely-mentioned class at the back of the campus, looking like Strange Birds as always. Maybe she'd go and get a closer look, just this once...
She pulled herself away. Donatella hadn't even noticed her reverie, but was checking her countdown. Nina was always telling her to get rid of that thing. Why count down the days til your childhood is over?
When she got home, her parents were fighting. It wasn't too bad, though, because they always devolved into making stupid jokes and trying to hold in their laughter. Mum made a tired, obvious one this time. "You're No Angel yourself," she shouted, and he rolled his eyes, and Nina knew the argument was over. She wondered if her Dad ever wanted to be an angel, or what he called one anyway. She knew it was a lot more complicated than that.
Days passed in the same way, until Donatella's countdown clock got into the single digits. Then everything happened very fast.
The group mentor stood at the top of the hall, checking they could light up enough. It was expected that they be responsible at this age to handle that themselves. Even Donatella had it done. "Now," she said, with her sad little wing nubs. "From now on, it's not All About You. You have an important job to do and a reputation to uphold. You will be holding lives in your hands. Tread carefully."
Nina wondered what kind of talk the punishers were getting. But their mentor brought them all together at the end for a shared message. "So far we've been Standing in the Way of the Light. We think it's about time to step aside and let you Shine."
They couldn't turn 16 until they stepped out, off the ledge and into the unknown, but Nina still took her time. Finally, she kissed Donatella goodbye and fell.