Expiring Beneath Tremulous Wings by Ken McGrath

I was dead. Why couldn’t they have let me be?

I was at peace, soaring, when I felt a tug. Faint at first, like a memory, then suddenly I was being wrenched from Heaven. Expunged, like a birth in reverse, vomited out, all seeping wounds and weeping tears.

My body erupted in a symphony of scars and through sand-blasted eyes I saw my parents. On the ground between them a shattered Ouija board, a cracked planchette and understanding hit so sharp it split my skin. They did this, they called me back. How could they be so selfish? What momentary joy could they have hoped to achieve for themselves by snatching me away from Paradise?

My lips tore as they parted but no sound escaped, my howl instead absorbed by the scorching fire of air as it gushed inside me, ripping me raw.

I did not want this. I did not ask to be returned to such wretched flesh.

My parents’ smiles vanished as understanding dawned, as they realised what their naive foolishness had wrought. Yet their despair could not be an iota of what I felt. Every moment was pain, an eternity of agonies where a million nerve endings were engulfed in flames.

My father screamed at the sight of me, but I couldn’t understand the words. They were transformed before they reached me, hitting me as a visceral red slash which scalded the backs of my eyes and sent razors down my spine.

My mother touched my arm and the skin split, cracking like ice. Her breath a holocaust against my fragile body.

I looked into her eyes, pleading for understanding wondering for what dreadful purpose had they had done this? Love perhaps? But no, this couldn’t be love. Having tasted Paradise this torment was just ash and despair by comparison.

Angels are not meant for this world.

I saw it in my mother’s face, the realisation that whatever Devil had granted them this wish had instead damned us all. Now that I had touched this world again, I could no longer return to Heaven. This brief rebirth had not brought happiness, but instead carved every sin across my flesh a thousand-fold.

When I was a child, I would stretch my arms out wide, bending them backwards to look like wings and I would pretend to fly. In Paradise I had no need for imagination anymore, but now I find myself here, bound to the filthy earth, imprisoned in this shell of meat, weighed down and waiting to expire beneath tremulous wings.


Ken McGrath lives in an upside down house in Dublin, Ireland with his  wife. His fiction has previously appeared in the ‘Bloody Valentine’ issue of Tales From The Moonlit Path, along with Cirsova Magazine, K Zine, Liquid Imagination Magazine, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Daily Science Fiction and the anthologies ‘Transcendent’ (Transmundane Press) and ‘Terror Politico!’ (Scary Dairy Press). You can find him online here https://kenmcgrathauthor.tumblr.com/ if you want. 


Published 5/12/19