Winging It / Helen Chambers

Morning light floated between ill-fitting curtains, over the clothes-strewn floor and fluttered across the pillow onto Susie’s face. Forcing reluctant eyes open, she peered at her clock which blurred in a hexagonal kaleidoscope before swimming into focus.

Eleven! She was meeting the others at half past and needed to shower and fix her hair first. No time. Flirty Anna would definitely be moving in on Mark if Susie was late again.

Calculating the fewest stages from hungover-head-on-pillow to effortlessly-bright-for-brunch with Mark, Susie thought she could just douse her face and hair under the cold tap and speedily strip-wash her ‘necessaries,’ as Nanna would say. Throw on a casual, complementing outfit, bolt down the four floors from her tiny attic flat and fly to the cafe.

Susie stretched out her silky wings which quivered in elegant synchronicity.


Still drunk. Or dreaming, perhaps. Though she’d always fancied herself as a fairy princess.

She shifted on the pillow fighting waves of nausea. Maybe better to miss brunch and sleep off the hangover?

No. Flirty Anna and Mark.

Susie went to roll to the side, but her wings stopped her. Perhaps someone had glued them on in a drunken prank? She tried to reach behind to pull them off but her arms wouldn’t work.

Opening her eyes fully, Susie stared down the length of her body. What the hell? She had six hairy, thread-like arms and legs waving like water-weeds in the river.

Six black limbs? And her body was rough and brown, tapering down in segments to a sort of rounded stump. Her whole body, the body of a fly, was perched on her pillow.

Susie vomited onto the floor by her bed.

She lay still, head pounding, a humming ache reverberating deep in her very soul. But she was still herself, and Susie always got on with things.           

After that, she felt a little better. Vibrating her wings for all she was worth, she rose into the air and flew uncertainly to the mirror. A small horse-fly glared back at her: an ugly, brown, moth-eaten specimen, buzzing angrily.

Time was ticking by, and Susie’s priorities had changed. She had a strong urge to drink, for one. She crawled through the open window with none of her usual sense of vertigo and launched into the air.

When she spotted the willowy blonde sashaying along the road, she combined gravity and wobbly flying to alight in a bump on her bare shoulder. It gave Susie immense pleasure to brunch on Anna’s meaty blood, regurgitating some for good measure. Anna’s shriek of pain dislodged her.

Susie burped, sated and cheerful, and darted off, zigzagging towards the city farm, avoiding the predatory pigeons. She smelled fresh earth and sought a horsey host in which to lay her eggs.            

She would worry about Mark later.

Helen won the Fish Short Story prize in 2018 and was nominated for Best Microfictions in 2019. She writes flash and short stories and has several publications to her name. See her website:

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