• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 05
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Feather and Flesh

Joel likes to walk. We’re both bipedal. But my wings don’t work to offset my stride the way Joel’s arms do. And although he’s patient, he walks for exercise, and I can’t keep up. So, he carries me under his arm, snugly hoisted on his hip, his gait reminding me of the choppy waves of a troubled lake. I enjoy our walks through the woods and sometimes we go down the lane, past some of the shoppes to glance inside the windows at the latest fashions or admire the atmosphere of a local coffee house.

I don’t mind the attention we get.

“What’s that you got, Buddy? Dinner?” or “Did she get away?” or “Going to set her loose on the river?” or “That your girlfriend?”

The latter remark was from a brace of young boys who took off at a run, laughter falling behind them like loose feathers in a wind. Joel doesn’t mind most of the curious stares or remarks but the boys’ remarks that day hit their mark. I could tell from the extra heat through his blue shirt and his tense muscles.

A dip in the lake would remedy that.

So, we headed for a woodland pond where – wing and arm – we swam on placid waters. Joel floated, face up, admiring the clouds while I quacked at the less fortunate fowl who flew overhead. Always looking for a place to rest. Fly on, poor homeless cousins, I called to ducks and geese.

They don’t approve of our relationship either. Humans aren’t the only bigots.

Then the boys came. They took Joel’s clothes and tossed them in the water. When Joel swam off to collect them, one of the brutes splashed into the shallows where I paddled in circles and grabbed me by the neck, stuffed me in a burlap sack, and ran off with me.


Feather and Flesh

What was to become of me? I soon found out. The burlap bag was peeled back, and I stood on a wooden table in a place I had never been. It resembled Joel’s workroom where he prepared our meals.

The burlap bag wasn’t the only thing that was peeled away. Even as they plucked my feathers, as I squalled and squawked with no thought of dignity, I heard the crash of wood and the heavy pounding of boots.

Joel had come to rescue me.

Shivering in my nakedness, I waited as he shouted and routed the boys, who bolted through windows and doorways. Around me on the floor, a bed of white and gray feathers. No more. I sighed as Joel settled me once more on his hip and took me home.

The next day we strolled down the lane to the main street, as we had often done before. I nestled for warmth against Joel’s blue shirt. He whispered words of comfort while I balanced upon my head the bright blond wig that he had bought me so that I would blend in.