Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
Her name was Emma, and she wasn't afraid of falling. For as long as she could remember she had been jumping - always plummeting. She understood the laws of nature: no matter how high she climbed, gravity would always carry her back to the ground; gravity would always grant her momentum to fall and wind-resistance to float. She understood why birds had wings and humans didn't; it was because humans would just as soon leave, and they belonged on the ground.

They always called her a little sparrow, always trying to fly, but they never understood that she didn't want updrafts or wings, she only wanted to scale walls and scurry up trees, to test the limits.

She wanted to throw herself from rooftops and swan dive from balancing bars, challenging inertia and gravity and the laws of motion. She wanted to cannonball into puddles and see if the ocean caught her, or if she merely fell through the earth  to the steaming, bubbling core. She wanted to lift up her arms in triumph, her hair whipping around her face, and fall through the clouds so that she knew what it felt like to be a tiny raindrop: descending - proving that everything, even her, returned to the ground. She wanted to test mass times acceleration and belly-flop into two inches of snow, leaving little pieces of Emma everywhere: slivers of bone, strands of hair, and tiny indentations in the ice that looked like fallen angels.

She wanted to climb to the top of the tallest tree and look down; to gaze with eagle eyes at the miniscule world beneath her, and feel larger than life. She simply wanted to fall, because she was afraid of flying.

She was always breaking something. If you looked at an x-ray, you would see splinters and slivers and severed muscles sewn back together; silver bolts through her joints and abrasions on her skin. You would wonder how someone so hastily put together could continue on, but she didn't need elbows and knees in order to fall.

They said she was a little accident-prone sparrow, but they didn't understand that she liked accidents and crutches and bruises - it proved she was doing something right; that Newton was correct, and little girls would always fall, like apples from trees.

They wrapped her in bubble wrap and plaster, but still, she leapt from trees, not even looking back at the birds who watched her in wonder. They locked her inside, where she wouldn't break, but she pushed back against the walls and windows with splinted-fingers and brittle bird-bones. She somersaulted off of desks and threw herself from bookshelves, cracking her head against hard wood floors and bruising her tailbone on slick linoleum. She ricocheted through the house, bouncing out of furniture and slamming into picture frames, never looking up, never looking back, simply wanting to be free. Eventually they gave up trying to contain her; she was like a bird rattling its cage, they said, she wanted to fly so badly.

She tested the laws and found them to be true. She was 13 years old and had broken 67 of her 206 bones. She was 10% metal, 47% bone, and 90% water. She was 147% Emma - flightless, limitless, bursting at the seams. 147% inertia and gravity and potential energy thrown from a tree like a baby bird learning to fly. They figured she'd grow out of it.

She was 13 years old when she fell too far, and broke her spine in 3 places. She was a broken-winged bird; a little sparrow that tried too many times and finally reached its limit. They picked her up and set her wings, but nothing could mend those brittle bird-bones, broken one too many times. They tied her to a wheelchair and she became 14% spinal-plates and rotating wheels. She was 161% Emma - flightless, limitless, bursting with wasted potential.

They counted the bones left unbroken and set her loose to live a life full of unclimbable trees and towering bookshelves just out of reach. She sat and watched and waited, but she never stopped trying to be free. The birds gazed down at her with pity, but she never looked up.

She was 24% metal, 47% broken bones, and 7% paralysis. She was 168% determination and never-forgotten dreams. She didn't want to run or stand or fly - she had never wanted that. In truth, she was scared to death of flying. All that open sky, and nothing to tether her to earth. She was afraid that, if she lifted up into the air, she would never be able to come back down. Humans weren't meant to fly, after all, and she wasn't born with wings. She was born to fall, to challenge the laws that governed her world, to prove that everything, even her, always returned to the ground.

She was 13 years old when she climbed to the top of the tallest building. There were one thousand, eight hundred and sixty steps from the street level to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, and she dragged herself to the rooftop just to look down at the miniscule world beneath her. They said she would never run, never stand, never fly again. But she didn't need to. It took only one step to get back to street level.

Her name was Emma, and she was 64% bone and 72% invincibility. She fell, she broke, but she always got back up again, ready to spread her arms and try once more. She was 13 years worth of fractures and ambulance drives; skimmed knees and tree-sap fingers. For 13 years she had been falling and jumping and springing back from the brink of death, but in one moment, she was a mere indentation in the ice.

She looked like a fallen angel.
She is 86% invincibility, 27% me, and 34% what I want to be. She is a character on my paper, and a person living inside of me, bursting out of my seams. She is all the potential I lack, and everything Jenny wishes she could be. She is a sister, and a whisper, and, sometimes, merely a name.

[[...and, in the end, she did seem to fly. The wind caught her arms, carried her shattered body, and the rain kissed her cheeks. Oxygen promised to turn her fears into buoyancy and allow her to float, but she wanted none of it. She smiled, she waved goodbye, and she did what human beings never could seem to do; (smiling, crying tears of joy, laughing) she returned to where she belonged: the ground. A little sparrow no longer burdened with wings.]]

she won't let me forget her.

Critique? Thoughts?

inspired by #theWrittenRevolution's Anniversary Contest, which I am submitting this to as soon as they accept me. :) Prompt: There are one thousand, eight hundred and sixty steps from the street level to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. It took only one to get back to street level.

I'm going to be doing some more of them soon, probably, because they are all wonderfully inspiring. :) Special thanks to :AlloenDreams: for entering her wonderful piece into this and therefore getting me interested in the contest.

also submitted to #100ThemesChallenge variation 2: Broken
Add a Comment:

Daily Deviation

Given 2012-04-20
The Little Sparrow by ~sense-and-stupiditySuggester Writes: A tragic, whimsical story of Emma in dreams and mathematics. ( Suggested by Solarune and Featured by BeccaJS )
paulymolly Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2016
Wow that is truly powerful piece of writing I'm looking forward to reading more of this person's writing
BlackAngel976 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015
This brought tears to my eyes.
SnowStormNinja24 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2015  Student Writer
This is a beautiful, powerful piece. Amazing work here~ :clap:
beeinthebottle Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014   Writer
My "little sparrow" is an "Emma," too. I don't believe she's invincible; I simply hope that she's resilient.

This piece is lovely and just what I needed to read right now. Thanks for writing it. I'm glad I stumbled on it.
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by =DailyLitDeviations in a news article that can be found here: dailylitdeviations.deviantart.… Congratulations on your DD!

Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by ing the News Article. Keep writing and keep creating.
sense-and-stupidity Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Student Writer
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. 
Karinta Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2013  Student General Artist
It's an insane piece. Why didn't I see it before? But it's also very cleverly written.
willyamPax Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
your works amaze me..
specially this one...
I enjoyed the tragic end...
really sad...
beautiful writing...
she will be always remembered..
in the hearts who read her words...

very talented writer you are....
waddledee13 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2012
Very well done!
alira23 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
So. I love this. It is fantastic. But I think I agree with some of the others about that last line. You mention birds and birds and birds and then an angel and I don't think it quite fits. This entire piece reads breathless though, like how rushing air snatches voices from our mouths.

Oh! Should skimmed knees be skinned? Skimming implies flight to me, while skinning is a drag.

I like that she's kind of suicidal and stupid but in an oblivious way. The invincibility part is perfect. And I also want to know why she's doing it all but I don't think it belongs in here. It's better to let people wonder if she's mentally unstable, or just not something mere humans would understand.
The part where she's fighting her walls reminds me of a little bird throwing itself against all sides of its cage and crashing, and it's interesting because she's not a bird, she doesn't want the lift and it's a label the people who aren't understanding are giving her. And I feel it's something that happens with mental patients and children - if you're dealing with a kid and you haven't been there, you'll never get it and you'll give them words they don't believe in (like calling her little sparrow).

Sorry for the weird long comment (late + exams + more exams). Hope it wasn't too nonsensical. Congrats on the DD =)
sense-and-stupidity Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012  Student Writer
Thank you very much for this, hun. :) I like all the "I love this" comments, but every once in a while it's refreshing to have just some honest-to-god feedback.
I agree upon rereading it later that her motives do seem a little...lacking? But that's mostly because I have her in my head as this person with a giant backstory, so I know...but as a writer I tend to exclude certain "unimportant" details because, well, if I know, then everyone else must too, right? You're right though, about it not belonging in here. Maybe one day I'll write her backstory. :)
Do you have any suggestions for a last line with birds? I've reread it, and you're definitely right (can't believe I didn't catch that (no pun intended)) but I can't seem to think of anything.

Again, thank you very much.
alira23 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012
I have been racking my brain for this long for a suggestion and it's just not coming for now. =( Nothing is quite right.... Kinda fitting for the character somehow ==
eternallovefairy Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
EndlessSecrets Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   General Artist
Wow, what a beautiful piece of writing. It's perfect.:)
ErikaHamilton Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
.... she sounds possessed lol
Grasswhistler Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
Professional-Fcukwit Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
That's beautifully written and a very nice piece. Well done =)
wheeljackpwnz Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oh my, so... so...
I've been left without breath and speech.
NazoTheHedgie Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
I know what she did...she climbed all the way up but took one step down. I think at least someone else can get it...
a7xerfoREVer Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haven't seen a piece as good as this in a long time. Well done you.
frozenrosepetal Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazing!
So powerful and meaningful.
colorship Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student General Artist
simply gorgeous.
iamoki Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I cried a little. I love it.
WHOAitsWhatsHerFace Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This. Is. Amazing. The way your wrote it...I don't know..It's so captivating and amazing and beautiful and deep, and the message behind it is so clear. I love it! <3
Doodelay Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Writer
I had no choice but to fav once she reached the empire state building.

It was all too obvious what was going to happen and i just wanted to say "Goddamnit emma call your ass down before you fall for the very last time!"

princen-scythe Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student General Artist
that. is. awesome. its soo good!! amazing work!~
jadestone45 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I don't know what it is, but something about the way this is written...something about the way you write is just absolutely captivating and beautiful. I don't even know enough words to describe how much I loved reading this and how good it is and alskdjfhaldskj.
I just have to say that this deserves every single sort of reward there is for literature and art and everything.
RemusBug Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
TwiDawnLight Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
This is beautiful. Really, really beautiful. =)
AlloenDreams Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
sense-and-stupidity Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Writer
aw. thank you, hun. :) ugh! I'm so flustered! I don't know how to deal with any of this.
AdilaRain Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   Writer
This is really awesome!

Many kids really want to fly, but she wanted to fall.

Great piece!
Desiree98 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Hey my name is Emma and i am 13! what a coincidence! btw amazing story i love the message!
Lynchly Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This made me feel good inside...I guess that's kind of weird. :iconsweatplz:
HyaRay Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist
A beautiful concept that, disturbingly, I sympathize with a bit. The end is extremely beautiful.
candyexorcist Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I love you.
HigginstheAwesome Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Absolutely beautiful. That's all I can say
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   General Artist
Lovely piece of literature you have here:heart:
I love how human it all is and how inspired it leaves me.
Thank you for sharing this piece with us here. :hug:
squeakbotmagicnesss Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
this is so deep, it made me want to cry, and smile, and be brave enough to be just like Emma.
LittleAppleThief Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
this is absolutely stunningly, mind blowingly, jaw dropingly amazing!
brit-an-stuff Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this was truley a deep story. i really loved it. thank you for submitting it. :heart:
3qu1nox Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is really, really good. I rarely have the patience for lit on DA, but I read this one right through because there wasn't really a choice. I like the contrast between the powerful but undramatic tone and choice of phrasing and the distinctly tragic, dramatic subject matter. I'd take the last line off the end, though, it strikes me as a little melodramatic.
PsychoBeast Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012
im truly envious of your talent its a gorgeous piece and deserves to be read by the world
ETheShinigami Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Writer
:omfg: This is just... beautiful! I really can't get over it...
GDeyke Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   Writer
She simply wanted to fall, because she was afraid of flying. - This is an amazingly powerful line. In a way, I was shocked when this story didn't end there.

Love your style throughout this - especially the repetition of phrases (or of the beginning of phrases) and the percentages and numbers of bones. I like all the sentences starting with she was - they help give it a strong rhythm. In general, I'm noticing that the flow of this piece mimics its contents (always a good thing!); it's fast-paced, very concrete, and the changes are abrupt and impactful, so that the reader gets a strong sense of repeated falls terminating in crashes.

Looking back at that, I've noticed that every paragraph starts either with she or they, except the first and the second-to-last. From a poetic standpoint, I like that a lot. I like it less because it's the second-to-last rather than the absolute last, and that's part of the reason I don't like your ending line very much. The other is that the final line should ideally be the one with the most impact, and I'm not getting that from this; the fallen angels have been mentioned once or twice before but haven't been central enough of a theme to merit last-line status (in my opinion) and, especially, they haven't been related to Emma enough that I have a reason to care whether she looks like one. Also, looking (like something) is incredibly passive, while being and falling and basically every other verb connected with Emma is very active, so that contributes to the anticlimax here.

A few other minor critiques:

if she merely fell through the earth to the steaming, bubbling core. - Your strong and actiony description of the earth's core seems to be contradicted by the word merely here.

In truth, she was scared to death of flying. - That line I mentioned as being extremely powerful, at the top of this comment? That line's the reason that this line seems kind of lame. You've said it before, and the in truth preceding something that's been said before just isn't working for me.

Love your style enough to favorite this, though, and to take a look at the rest of your gallery in a bit. :)
SECRET-NINJA-SUPER-M Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
First of all: Congrats on the DD! ^_^ You deserve it.

Second: Beautiful and touched my heart [though I was unsettled slightly that I share her name], I love and can relate to her story. It's very well written. Well done ^_^
LFBeta16 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   General Artist
And I had a feeling of what would happen in the end. :O
LFBeta16 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012   General Artist
Shocking. :O
BandWithNoName Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
this is one of the most original stories I've ever read on here. congrats!
ookaookaooka Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I want to fly
Add a Comment:

:iconsense-and-stupidity: More from sense-and-stupidity

Featured in Collections

writing by chasingsunbeams77

Poetry Prose Comics by bookwurmzhao

Literature by Gemdrop

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
December 11, 2011
File Size
5.6 KB


461 (who?)