We Don't Know Why by Nancy Springer



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To a future girl, Mishell, who flies with the aid of anti-gravity wings, the death in a freak accident of a beloved older brother, Mykel, is hard to accept. Why had it happened? To Mykel, of all people? Why ? 
 
Rebelliously going AWOL from her home spacecraft, cruising  the sky of an earth-like planet, Mishell  is worshipped by primitive people who believe she is an angel. After she rescues one of them, their faith in her is boundless, and she begins to understand the weight of the question, “Why?"
 
A short story.
 
EXCERPT:
 
So me’n Kris were basically out atmosphere-cruising in our solar wings, flying fast and low to the planet surface, kinda looking for trouble to get into because there was really nothing to do. It was a stupid planet, boringly Earth-like, just a little more gravity, squatty trees, lumpy stumpy animals that made us laugh the way they scuttled away from us. The wings didn’t flap or fold or anything, they were just standard helio-energized antigravity foils, but anything was better than staying on board and listening to my father lecture me about how I was lucky to be alive and I ought to shape up.
 
“Stop it, Mishell!” Kris yelled at me.
 
I stalled a little because he had startled me. “Stop what?”
 
“Thinking!” He swooped so low his chrome boots rattled a treetop. “So your brother’s dead, so what,” he complained. “Everybody dies sometime.” Kris was totally heartless and rude, which was why I had started going out with him. His coolness was a lot easier to take than sympathy, and Kris was totally cool. He never wore a helmet in atmosphere. Said he liked the feel of all those little air molecules in his mane of platinum hair. He had more hair than I did, and I was the captain’s daughter, but that was part of how Kris was cool. Nobody could tell him how to act or what to do. I didn’t wear my helmet anymore either when I didn’t need it for oxygen. 
 
“Bet you can’t goose a goose,” Kris said as a riverside meadow full of some kind of waterfowl came into view. All facing away from us and making simpleminded noises through their lowered bills, they seemed to be eating the new spring grass. Maybe they really were geese, though on this planet they looked as short-necked as ducks, with wings that were oversized, big and clumsy compared to the rest of them, like mine.
 
“Go ahead,” Kris challenged. “Try it.”
 
Sneak up behind one of those downy waddling bird butts, he meant, and startle it silly. Scare them all silly. The solar wings were lightweight and shining and dead silent, like riding on light. If Kris would stop flapping his mouth, it actually might be possible for me to glide down and goose a goose. 
 
Unless I caught a wingtip on the ground, in which case I would probably be killed. But I didn’t care. Since Mykel had died I really didn’t care about anything.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads


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