By Jeff Baker
Ciallo walked out of the sea, his wings dripping wet.
“You’re not going to be able to fly that way,” Sillek called out. Sillek was his little brother.
“They’ll be dry by Night’s-Falling,” Ciallo said, drying his arms and chest with the towel he picked up from the beach. “All I have to do is…” He tensed his muscles and the feathered wings growing out of his shoulders began to beat furiously, spraying water in every direction. His little brother watched in admiration and envy. Ciallo was eight seasons old, almost a man. Sillek was three seasons younger; his wings still hadn’t grown fully.
The beach was nearly full of festival-goers, mostly families, a lot of them with picnic lunches. Some of them with young children whose wings were sprouting running around the beach, arms outstretched, pretending to fly. And young men flexing their wings, ready to fly.
The sun was arcing downward; it would be dusk soon. Night’s Falling. Ciallo looked around, trying to contain his excitement. This was the climax of the festival; he’d never been a part of it before, especially not at the sea’s edge.
They ate light as Ciallo and Sillek’s parents explained that the beach had been very different millions of years ago.
“Before the Big Collision…” Mother was saying.
“The Big Slow Collision,” Father laughed.
“Some people say it never happened, that the Galaxy always was this way and was never two separate galaxies,” Father said. “It’s called ‘Bent-Plate Theory.’ But in truth, the two Galaxies were separate and then slowly moved together and finally merged. We can see the large, flat disc of the other Galaxy through most of the summer.”
“The joining caused gravitic shifts and chaos where stars passed close to other stars,” Mother said. “Civilizations vanished, others fled to other worlds. Our own people were the result of two such species merging. We didn’t always have wings,” she added smiling at Ciallo.
The sky darkened quickly. Soon a few stars could be seen in the sky and the reddish planet Marso high in the sky. And as the light of dusk receded over the sea it was replaced by the whitish-pinkish disc of the galaxy which stuck out at an angle from the heart of the galaxy it had invaded millennia ago. With shouts of excitement, Ciallo and the other young men and women flew into the air and began circling, silhouetting the dim disc which had once been called, in the planet’s dim memory, Andromeda.