“I’ll see you at nine,” Carl had said when she left the elevator, and it had the feel of an event, a date, the first she’d been on since before her surgery. She strapped herself into one of the new corsets, cinching her waist and puffing her chest into a shape it hadn’t been before – thin and angular, like the women in the ads. None of her clothes fit right anymore, and her ribs had started to show. In the morning she would recheck her readings. She must be close to optimal density by now.

There was time before the party so Deb decided to do some stretches. She sprawled on the bed, face down, and extended her wings, reaching them out to the sides until she could go no further. She felt the familiar strain in her lats and pecs, the pull of every muscle in her back. She concentrated on the tips, reaching out as far as she could before lifting them back towards the ceiling behind her. Her movements were painstaking, but Deb could imagine how it would be when she had the strength and endurance to do this all more quickly, flapping fully without having to lie down. In the short weekend, her range of motion had increased and her muscles had strengthened. She’d worked her way up to reps of four, but had to pause in between to find her breath and let the dizziness abate. She still blacked out sometimes, but eventually, when her heart was stronger, she’d be able to spread while standing and no longer have to worry about collapsing in the process.

When she finished three sets and her breath returned, Deb belted herself into the only dress that even mildly flattered her new proportions. It was a cotton shift that hung off her in odd spots, so she looked like an adolescent playing dress-up in her mother’s clothing. She would have to go through the catalog tomorrow and see what Todd Rodgers offered for women’s fashion. She wondered what the protocol was on push-up bras, if they’d impede aerodynamics or otherwise affect her progress. For now, she applied eye shadow and mascara, lipstick and blush, even though her face was still rosy with exertion.