I first noticed it when he walked away from the accident. A late night hike through the trail that led around Shadow Mountain that had led to a trip, then a tumble, then a fall through brush and thorn.

Victor’s body lay crumpled and broken against the side of a tree. I shimmied down the side of the mountain to get to him, keeping my grip tight against the branches that Victor hadn’t torn through during his fall. I had heard what I believed to be a snap, but my shock kept me from thinking the obvious: that Victor had broken his neck.

Then I heard the light flapping of wings, and as I turned around a bend of rock and tree bark, I saw wings surrounding Victor’s limp body. The blackness of the wings was palpable. There were no bodies attached to their ephemeral forms. Only shadowy feathers that batted against each other and the air.

In my shock and disturbed thought, I believed I saw the wings pry open Victor’s mouth and scramble inside like a black whirlwind until they were gone and all that hung in the air was eerie silence.

At that moment, Victor stood, and he grinned at me. A grin that told me that absolutely nothing had happened. My shock abated some, and I hugged him tightly, but he was cold, and his eyes were no longer their lively blue. A dull silver glow washed over them and gave me the shivers–just the full moon’s reflection, no doubt. He was alive, I convinced myself, and that was the most important thing. He was standing, and it was enough.

It was enough.