Rainbow Blue

Christine F. Wagner
Rainbow Blue

“Nadine, take the comforter away from the railing right now!” calls her mother. That tone Nadine likes the least. It’s so beautiful how the feathers glide away. One after the other detaches itself from the comforter and, carried by a strong gust of wind, floats high up in the air. How high could feathers fly? Up to the clouds? Or even up to dear God above? How high is high? Nadine ponders. Yesterday they came up here in the cable car. Afterwards her ears hurt. “That’s how you know that the hotel is very high up,” her Papa explained. Why that is, she didn’t understand. But she nodded, as always, so as to not disappoint Papa. Judging by her earache yesterday, she must at least be near the clouds.
I slip out of the comforter and unfold myself, grow and free myself. A gust of wind carries me upwards and the sun is caught in my feathers. Its rays make me laugh.
Looking at the trees from above. Amazing! Higher, always higher!
One feather breaks away from the others and rushes upwards. Nadine, quickly fetching her father’s spyglass, follows it with fascination. How beautifully the sunlight reflects off the feather’s fine barbs. Just like gleaming cotton wool. Cotton wool made of gold. Nadine wishes that she could be such a feather. She could escape her mother’s voice. And she would never need to go to a doctor again. She could dream whenever she wanted. And make up stories, paint goblins, marvel at the world from above, glide towards anywhere.
Oh, too bad. The feather is gone.
Help! Everything is turning. The world rotates past me! I’m getting sick! I’m falling!
Is it back? Nadine tries not to blink and presses the telescope so tightly to her eye that it hurts. Yes, that could be it. She holds her breath with suspense. And almost falls over because it makes her so dizzy. The doctor recently warned her of that. In her condition, regular breathing is extremely important.
There, there it is. Now gold, now white, sparkling in the air. That must be her feather. It spins around like a falling leaf. Here it is, no there. Where? Is it still in the air? Nadine sways side to side on the balcony trying to find her feather. Nothing. Just as she is about to disappointedly put down the telescope, her eye catches a golden glittering dot.
Thank the heavens. Everything is ok, again. Where am I? I am bouncing on a larch needle. See the trees from below. In front of me, a house with many balconies. Above, the sun, that still sends its rays to me, but I can no longer laugh.
Nadine does not listen to her mother at all as she rushes down the stairs in her slippers in search of the way outside, to her feather. Thousands of thoughts tumble around her head. Is it still there? What does it look like? Is it made of gold? Her chest breathes heavily, her side hurts and her face is hot. But for Nadine the only thing that matters is the feather in front of which she stops dead in her tracks. So graceful and delicate. The light of the sun channels a path to them in between the larch needles. Everything is golden. Nadine has found a treasure. And it belongs to her, only her.
Who is there? A girl. Why does she stare that way? Does she mean me? “Nadine! Where are you?” Mother stands on the balcony, “It is much too cold, come back inside immediately!”
Nadine crawls under the larch tree in such a way that she could see her piece of gold but her mother could not see her. She kneels down and examines the treasure closely. She wants to whoop and holler for joy, but then her mother would find her. So she stays hidden until she grows quiet and warm inside. She hears the gust of wind before she feels it. It caresses her cheek and begins to make the feather on its larch twig dance so that it gently sways to and fro. Nadine wraps her arms around herself, rocks back and forth with closed eyes.
Are all children so quiet? Hey little one! Everything all right with you?
“Nadine, do I need to come get you?” The girl startles and wakes from her dream, the one she always dreams, during the day, in the night and in between. Today it is the feather that stands on the stage with her. She is also dressed in gold, like her partner, and her parents clap eagerly and with pride from the front row to celebrate her success.
Nadine shakes herself like a wet dog.
Whoa, first you’re a lame duck and then a wild fury; leave your hair alone and me on my larch twig!
Then she approaches the feather so close that only a millimeter separates her nose from it. She sees the fluff stir from her breath. Tiny hairs dance wildly and then snuggle together until the next breath.
That tickles! You’re making me laugh! Hey little one, that feels good!
A drop - a remainder from the morning’s dew - falls from its place on a higher branch and lands directly beside the feather. Sunlight glimmers through the water drop and conjures red, yellow, green and blue colours that get caught in the feather and make it glow like a rainbow.
“You are so beautiful,” comes out of Nadine. Startled she froze; had her mother heard her?
Just like you, my child, just as beautiful as you are. Come closer …
She holds her breath in order not to disturb the beauty and with the tip of her finger she gently brushes over the colourful thing. Breathless. Is the world now standing still? Now everything is blue everywhere. Now she feels the downy barbs on herself. And the softness of them.
A gust of wind shakes the branches and needles fall. And then the down feather breaks free and glides upwards.
My little girl, now you are me. And I am you! We dance and twirl colourfully through the air. From above the world looks completely different.
The blue is light and bright. Time flows. In this sea of light, Nadine is at home. The world is round, the trees are high. She is near to dear God. In her ears there’s singing, no pain anywhere. Only air, laughter, life.
“Nadine, my God, Nadine wake up!” her mother’s voice enters hear ear. And Nadine finds herself, lying on the ground. Under the larches. That tone she likes most of all. So dear, so soft. Still she keeps her eyes closed, feels for the fine downy strands in her, breathes the altitude she feels. Blue is good.
Nadine, here I am, always here. By you!
“Mama!” calls Nadine. She opens her eyes and snuggles close to her. “Can you buy me a blue sweater?”

Translated from German by Shan Wardell

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