Cordyn sat on the rocky cliff, one knee hugged to their chest, their other foot dangling over the edge. Their chin-length dark hair hid most of their face, and clouds lapped at their ankle, billowing in the wind that swept down from the mountaintop. I hesitated on the path, not sure what I could possibly say, but knowing that I had to say something.
“I’m fine, Arlyn.” Cordyn shifted on the ledge, tucking their wings even tighter to their back. “You should stop worrying about me.”
“I didn’t expect the egg to be so big. So close to hatching.” I stepped off of the path, reached out a hand, then pulled it back before my fingers brushed against their storm-gray feathers. “It was a bit of a shock, realizing that you’ll have to leave so soon.”
The wind swirled around us, revealing Cordyn’s face. Their gaze lingered on the horizon, far off over the cloud ocean. “Do you think there’s really anything under the clouds?”
“Of course I do.”
“Why does no one ever come back, then?”
“Because it’s forbidden. Because there is too much to do to waste time moving backwards.
Because there are insufficient updrafts.” I shrugged. “Because there’s nothing here to come back to.”
“I remember when you were an egg,” Cordyn said. “I remember Lialyn’s face when they held you. It broke their heart to leave so quickly after you hatched.”
“I’m sure they’re waiting for you, under the clouds.”
“I wish I was sure.” Cordyn stood up, towering a full head over me. They reached out and patted my shoulder, their hand warm and comforting. “It’s almost time for dinner. Let’s go home.”