A/N: This is the first story I ever wrote (as in, started and finished). This is the first time it's seen the outside of my notebook since I wrote it, so please be gentle :3

The weather matched Alex's feelings exactly. The sky was filled with wet, grey clouds, fat and heavy with the threat of rain. There was no sunshine at all, just pale translucence that simply made things visible. The wind was blowing at an odd angle. Not directly at Alex's face, or at his back, but more to the side, so Alex's hair was constantly in the face. And up here the wind was harsh. There was nothing in its way. No trees or bushes. Not even grass or rocks. There was just gravel and pebbles at Alex's feet. He could hear them crunching even as he just stood there. It was very loud, almost loud enough to block out the noise of the wind.
Alex shivered as the wind tore at his flesh. he hadn't bothered to wear a jacket. He hadn't seen the point. The cold did however help fade the pain in his feet. They were bleeding. He had run for as long as he could remember, ignoring the stony path cutting his feet, tears streaming down his face. Alex wasn't crying now, those tears had been whipped away by the wind. No more tears would follow, Alex had no more left. Alex had reached the cliff, and he'd stopped. He hadn't moved in quite some time.
As soon as he'd stopped, Alex felt a strange lack of emotion. All feeling was suddenly dulled down to a background throb. All that was left was thought. Alex was trying to think of a reason not to take this final step. He was looking, searching, scavenging for a single reason not to kill himself. He tore through his memories, turning over everything, trying to find an excuse to not finish what he'd come here for. Nothing came. He stopped thinking, and stepped off the cliff.

What tends to happen in times of extreme stress is a person's brain works in fast forward. If someone finds themselves falling from a great height, the brain tries to take in everything at once, in case it might miss something that will save its life. This is what happened to Alex as he fell, he seemed to fall very slowly. He could see every angle in the surface of the cliff, and if he'd been looking at the bottom of the cliff, he'd probably be able to do the same with the rocks at the base. The wind rushing past him was deafening, it seemed to fill him and reverberate within him, yet he could make out the birdsong in the trees at the very bottom of the cliff.
As Alex was falling, his life began to flash before him. He saw when he was five years old, curling himself into a ball, hiding in the closet. He was trembling, and trying not to whimper. His father was angry because Alex had broken his expensive binoculars, when he'd promised to be careful. Alex was always very scared when his father was angry, because he always ended up getting hurt. Seriously hurt. Suddenly the closet swung open and crashed loudly against the wall. Alex tried to scream, opened his mouth wide and squeezed his lungs, but nothing came. His father stood silhouetted in the doorway. Although it was dark, Alex could just make out his father's eyes reflecting in the light of the fireplace in the next room. The eyes flitted from side to side, scanning the closet. When the eyes came to rest on Alex, he could hear the brief intake of breath, as his father found what he was looking for. The large man reached out and grabbed Alex by his arm. Alex could feel the hard calluses painfully rubbing against his skin as he was dragged out of the closet. He could see his father's other hand balled into a fist. Alex screamed.

Alex kept falling. Either his brain was slowing back down to normal speed in acceptance of his fate, or he was falling faster. The wind was hitting him even harder than before, and the cliff face flew past in a blur. Alex looked down and saw his death coming up at him ever faster. He welcomed it.

He was five again, but the broken binoculars were now a painful memory. He was in his room, lying in his bed, wide awake. For the past hour and a half, he'd been listening to the sounds of his parents' footsteps. Finally he could tell that they were both going to bed. He waited for a full half hour after everything was silent, just to be safe. Then he slowly got out of bed, and put on his socks, and jacket. After opening his bedroom door with snail-like slowness and care, he walked step by careful step, as quickly and as silently as he could. When he reached the front door, he picked up his shoes, and opened the door silently, which meant opening it as slowly as a plant grows. Once outside, he ran, stumbling the first few steps as he pulled on his shoes, and then sprinting off into the night. He ran across the dark, empty roads, past the still, silent houses. On and on he ran until he reached the school. There was nothing particularly special about the school, he certainly didn't like attending during the day, but it was a place where no one could look out and seem him. Alex didn't slow until he'd reached the playground. He stopped, and leaned against the swing to catch his breath. Right next to the playground was the field. Alex stepped onto the field, and started walking. Then, and only then, did he look up at the sky, and he saw the stars. Alex picked out the only constellation that he knew, Orion's belt. He stared out at the countless flickering stars, and thought about the aliens he saw in movies. He thought about Roxanne, a girl in his class that he secretly liked. But most of all, he forgot about his parents. He forgot about his teachers. He forgot about the bullies. For this brief moment, staring at the stars, Alex was happy.

Suddenly Alex's body was flooded with heat. A small scream escaped his lips, but it was lost in the torrent of wind rushing by him. His whole body juddered, but it felt good, as if he was stretching after sitting down for a long time. He could feel the wind brushing him as he fell, in his face, his arms, his legs, but now he could feel the wind with another part of his body, something that he couldn't feel before. Something on his back. He twisted his head to look behind him, and saw . . . wings! Alex couldn't believe it. He flapped them at few times experimentally, and could hear the 'whoosh' sound they made, and he felt himself slowing down as he did so. They were so huge that flapping them once slowed him dramatically. Alex had wings. He could fly. He could fly away and never come back, no one would know that he hadn't killed himself, and no one would care anyway.

Alex was seven. He was sitting at his desk in class, looking across at Roxanne. Naturally she wasn't looking at him, she was busy drawing. Every time Alex saw her, she was drawing, or talking and laughing with her friends. Alex thought about Roxanne a lot, day dreaming that she would talk to him, and laugh with him. Not laugh at him because of something stupid he'd done, but laughing because he'd made a really funny joke. Sometimes, when Alex lay in bed at night, staring up at the ceiling, he'd imagine Roxanne taking his hand in hers, and walking across the field with him. Alex knew that would never happen, there was no chance that Roxanne would do anything like that, and Alex would never ever try to do that with her. But he enjoyed thinking about it anyway.
One day, during lunchtime at school, Louis started to talk to Alex. Louis was the boy that all of the girls talked about to each other, wrote little poems about and blushed and giggled at when he happened to look in their direction. Louis was a year older than Alex, and much taller, stronger and faster. He spent most of his time playing sports and racing his friends. He was different to Alex in every way, and never talked to him, at least not as though they were friends. Louis had run up to him, shouting his name, and when he got to him, he was grinning.
"Hey Alex! Do you like Roxanne?"
The question was so sudden, and completely unexpected. Alex paused only briefly.
"No!" he scoffed. Of course he couldn't Louis that he liked her, he'd tell everyone, and then everyone would make fun of him. Alex had seen what happens when a boy likes a girl; everyone finds out and laughs in their face, singing little songs about getting married. Alex couldn't bear it if that happened to him.
"Well, she likes you." he said. Alex felt like all of the air had been sucked from his body. He couldn't breathe. He stood gasping for a while, refusing to believe it.
"She told me she looks at you in class daydreaming." Louis continued. "She said you look like you're looking through the walls, at things no one else can see."
Louis was obviously amused at Alex's reaction, but he wasn't being mean about it. He was being nice, like they were friends.
"So that was why Alex was now sitting at his desk, watching Roxanne draw. He'd been watching since the start of lunchtime, and most of the class had left the room to play outside. Now lunchtime was nearly finished. Alex knew she was never going to be all by herself, so he gathered his courage, got up, walked straight over to her and asked her loudly and clearly,
"Louis told me that you loved me. Do you?"
As soon as he'd finished saying the words, Alex wished he hadn't. He wished he could pull the words back and sit down as though nothing had happened. He felt very small, and he wished he were very small so he could hide in a crack in the floor and never come back out. Silence filled the room. The kind of silence that only exists when someone has just embarrassed themselves. It was the worst sound Alex could ever hear.
Suddenly the silence was broken by a new sound. This new sound then became the worst sound Alex could hear. Someone had snickered. Then everyone was snickering, everyone in the classroom, there was no one there who wasn't snickering. Even her. She was looking at him, with her big blue eyes, wearing a lopsided grin that made her look as though he'd asked her something obviously stupid, like 'why is the sky green?' Then she was laughing. But that wasn't as bad as what she did next. Alex would have happily let Roxanne laugh at him as much as she liked, as long as she didn't do what she did next. She pointed at him. Suddenly the whole world was laughing and pointing. And somewhere in the back, someone was singing.

Alex flapped harder, trying to slow his progress. But before he could slow down, his new wings disappeared, as though they had never been. He accelerated down the side of the cliff even faster now, plunging to an inescapable death.

Alex was ten, and he was back at the field in the school playground. He was playing fetch with a stray dog he'd run into on the way there, and had followed him. He was a beautiful dog. He was all big brown eyes, floppy ears, full black fur and bushy tail. As soon as the stick left Alex's hand, the dog pelted after it, running with everything it had. When he brought it back, he hassled and pleaded with Alex until Alex threw it again. Sometimes when Alex threw the stick really hard, the dog ran panting after it and spent minutes at a time looking for it. Alex just stood listening to the cluttered silence around him; the crickets in the grass, the breeze in the trees at the edge of the field, the snuffling and panting of the dog far off. Everything combined to make up the silence of the night. The dog came back, and Alex laughing as he dropped the stick, then jumped around yelping and whining, begging Alex to throw the stick again.

The heat returned to his body, warming his wind-chilled limbs, and the wings reappeared. Alex stared in disbelief for an instant, before struggling to stop falling. The ground continued to loom ahead of him, forebodingly.

Alex was ten again. He awoke to the sound of a gunshot. He sat bolt upright in bed as the shot reverberated in his head, echoing on the walls of his skull. He scrambled out of bed, and ran as fast as he could downstairs, he couldn't see anyone. There was no one there. Then he realized he could hear voices coming from outside. Alex shot out of the front door into the pre-dawn light, the sun announcing its imminent arrival over the tips of the trees by painting the horizon yellow and gold. He looked around madly, and saw his parents standing a little way off on the front lawn, their backs facing him. As he approached, he opened his mouth to ask what happened, but when he saw no words came, just a strangled choke caught in his throat. His father was holding a gun, and there in front of them lay the body of a dog. It was the same dog that had followed him to the field that night. His best friend. Apparently the dog had found Alex in the middle of the night, wanting to play. He'd stood outside howling and barking all night, calling for him. Alex's father had come outside to chase the dog away, but he wouldn't leave. Alex's father threw things at the dog, the dog got angry, and Alex's father had reached for the gym.
Alex fell to his knees by his best friend. He tenderly reached out and touched the fur at his neck, touch the end of his floppy ear. The ear fell back, the dog didn't move. Alex put his hands on his friend's shoulder and gently shook him, trying to wake him up. He didn't wake up. Alex's hands came back bloody. Alex's father grabbed him, twisting him around to face him. His father could guess what had happened, and he wasn't happy about it. His mother was frowning. Alex was dragged back into the house, but he was still calling out for his best friend, calling for him to wake up. He wouldn't wake up.

Alex couldn't stop falling, even as he flopped his new wings furiously. But no sooner had he started to slow down, than his wings disappeared once again. Tears of fear, sadness, and just plain frustration welled up in his eyes, and were whipped away by the cruel wind.

Alex was thirteen. His parents had decided to take a trip to the beach, and had brought Alex with them purely because they didn't want him left to his own devices at the house. So Alex was left to do what he liked at the beach. The sun had just finished setting as he walked along the beach, and the stars were starting to come out. The trip had been a dream so far, as soon as they arrived, his parents simply ignored him, and that was fine by him. Alex had dug in the sand, explored the rocks, and simply crouched to watch the crabs scuttle about. When he stood up, Alex could see the stars. It was then, in that moment, that Alex was home. Not where he lived with his parents, but the home he had whenever he was alone, and the stars came out.

The ground loomed ever closer. Alex's body felt warm again, and he could feel his wings again. He tried to fly.

He was fifteen. One of the teachers had caught him handing a note to someone in class. Alex had merely been given the note from the person next to him, and asked to pass it on. The teacher just happened to spot him with it, and assumed he'd written it. She pulled him up by his arm and practically dragged him out of class. As he passed through the classroom, he saw Louis who, Alex would later find out at the principal's office, was the one who wrote the note. Louis was looking at him, and Alex knew that later that day he was going to get beaten up again. Again.

Alex's wings disappeared for the third time. He didn't know what was happening. He didn't know anything really, except that the ground was getting ever closer.

He was fifteen again. He was sick and had to stay home from school. His father was working, and his mother was at her best friend's house, drinking. Alex had the whole house to himself, for the whole day. He played his CDs really loud, music he would only ever play very quietly, and even then for a couple of minutes before he left for school. He drew some pictures, and if they were really good, he put them up on his bedroom wall. For one of the few times in his life, Alex was having fun in his own house.

The heat returned, and so did his wings. Alex was almost too frightened and confused to try and fly away again, and he was almost numb from the constant buffeting of the wind. But he tried anyway.

He was sixteen. Alex's stereo hit the lawn with a heavy crash, breaking into pieces of all sizes. Alex stood looking out of his bedroom window, down at the wreckage. For a moment he'd forgotten his father was there, but he was soon reminded by the scuffling and ripping sounds. Alex turned to see. His father hadn't stopped at throwing Alex's stereo out the window, Alex's music had obviously made him very angry. He'd evidently come home to the sound of the stereo turned up, and had stormed up to Alex's room to find him asleep, stereo blaring. Now his father was punishing him by tearing off Alex's drawings from the walls. All of Alex's beautiful, beautiful drawings, in pieces on the floor, just like his stereo out on the lawn. Alex lost control, and lunged at his father.

Again the wings vanished, and Alex didn't care. The icy wind had made him numb on the outside, and the inside. He looked straight down as he fell, staring at the ground. Alex wasn't staring out of defiance, rage interest, or even acceptance. He was just staring.

When people at school noticed that Alex wasn't there, it wasn't a point of any concern. People thought to themselves 'I wonder what happened to him'. They drew their own conclusions. People are often taken out of school because their family is moving away, so odds are the same thing happened to him. If a word had to be used to describe Alex's parent's reaction, the closest word would be surprised. Naturally they assumed that he'd run away, he was an accident anyway, and as far as they were concerned they'd been paying for it ever since. There were times, however, when he mother would turn to the sound she thought were Alex's footsteps, and when it turned out to be nothing, she became strongly sad, but it faded before long, and she soon forgot about it.

The breeze at the cliff still blew softly, moving the dust around at the top. The leaves at the base of the cliff rustled in the bright sunlight. The green grass was lush and bare. Tumbling gently in the breeze as it fell towards the grass, was a feather. A pure white fluffy feather, which landed softly on the soft grass. The birds began to sing, and somewhere, so far off that it was on the edge of hearing, a dog could be heard barking playfully at his master.