The Sky No Longer
A tiny square of window served as her light, these days. It kept the room just one step away from darkness. Always it blinked blearily into one more dreadful morning, only to shed a useless grey sheen over the otherwise dark, featureless corners until the next.
It also drove her one step from madness.
But he would be due to arriving soon. He always left the door open behind him, shedding buttery color and warm life into the little hole she lived in now; his eyes were so green and dark, restless like the twitching leaves she used to soar above. His hair was so gold, like the sun she would squint into with all her might as a youngling, staring past the glare just to try and catch a glimpse of its yellow, smiling face.
Meeting him, she once thought she’d finally managed it.
He was beautiful. She knew now she shouldn’t think so, not after the bad, bad thing, but she couldn’t help it. Shut in here, with no light to look at but that tiny square of a window until he returned again--he was acting as her sun, now.
And said he would let her out if she behaved. She really did like lips and arms, hands and hair, all hooked together. It was fun like all the new things he had shown her, secrets and promises and sleeping on feathers. Things her brothers and sisters would never know nesting up in their imperious mountains their whole lives.
But her belly just ached, remembering before. Thinking how she’d once begged him to touch her wings, to push on them and pull at her feathers. And he did so, smooth and gentle then rough and binding, pinning her. How good it had all felt.
And now there was nothing to touch, not anymore.
A new wave of sorrow rushed over her like winter wind at the reminder, and she hiccupped back another sob. She was so sad, so so sad. That was this feeling, this wet that leaked down her cheeks and puddled in her palms. The ugly, prickling awfulness that used to bite at her wingless shoulder blades was nothing compared to this simple absence of that always-there weight. The numbing feeling of never-there-again. When her itching legs demanded her walk the tips of them no longer brushed the ground; when the door opened and light came in she barely even recognized the waft of air, as it no longer ruffled her absent feathers.
Like now. The door opened, she more saw now rather than felt, and any second he would come.
It was him, she hurried to remind herself one more time, gasping around a biteful of her right palm as he entered. Her teeth were sharp enough they pierced her skin easily, iron tainting her tongue while his strong heavy steps moved closer. Her heart thumped in answer to every thump of them.
He never said so, his sad little smiles and achingly tender pets all she was ever answered with. He looked on her now with one of those smiles, this one especially little as she hurried her eyes from his gaze. The little window, that was where she must look, she determined, ignoring when he opened his arms, holding them out for her. A part of her still wanted to rush into them, beg him like every visit before to let her out and allow him to hush her, to touch her. And yet.
“Won’t you come to me?” he said so gently now, and the thumping in Blaer’s chest staggered, hitching her breath. He’d asked for her to come to him.
“You took them,” she breathed out, rushing the words from her dry throat before she stopped believing them. He looked at her, face blank. “I know it was you, you can’t keep, keep . . .” With every second she felt her words losing ground. He cocked his head at her, and she bit her lip, quiet.
“Darling, you were going to fly off,” he told her softly, kneeling in front of her. She looked down, eyes resting on her wet palms. They gleamed red from tears and biting. “I told you to stay here, and you disobeyed. You could have hurt yourself. And that would have hurt me. Is it so bad your wings are gone? Darling. You can’t blame me for being glad of that.”
No, perhaps she couldn’t. Herself, herself, it was all her fault, she knew. Stupid, wanting to deceive him. Stupid, wanting to go against him.
Even more stupid she realized, with a lancing hurt to her chest, wanting to believe he ever loved her at all.
“Why don’t you kill me?” she asked, still down at her palms. The words broke through her mouth, rising up and falling from her lips like crumbled bits of stone. It grated her ears just to hear them.
But the memory of the dark resurfaced, the worst dark. Sharp metal slicing, cutting, sawing. She’d been so dizzy that night. He’d forgiven her, she’d returned, all was well. But the dreamy haze that oozed over her after their supper could only keep her body limp in the ordeal to follow. She still felt it, the horrific sawing, she still saw it, the night black of blood everywhere, she heard it. Still heard his voice.
She hated him.
Now large, solid arms encompassed her body; her wings would have fluttered in surprise, at the feeling of him drawing her completely to his chest.
His hands stroked her hair and down her spine, carefully avoiding the thick, bandaged state of her upper torso. So gentle now, so caring after ripping her life from her. “Oh, my little bird,” he sighed so sadly, breath puffing against her ear.
The name broke a sob from her throat, and he held her tighter immediately, like he’d expected the outburst. She heard him distantly keep making shushing noises, cradling her to him like she was something precious. And maybe she should be fighting him, maybe she was supposed to be straining from him. Pushing away her love for him like she once would have pushed off from the ground, into the sky.
But the sky was hers no longer. Instead her head settled into a nook of his chest to cry and cry, to gasp her pain against his heart. He’d closed the door for the first time, only that shallow little square providing light to smear around her tears. Bland and gray, weak and strained, the light. Nothing.
Like her. She felt it, sorrow such a weight, yes, that’s what this heavy gray was. Heavy, pressing her down beneath the dark, keeping her from the sun. Ricocheting against her ribs and reminding her.
Despite what he called her, she was bird no longer.