Fiction from Avra Margariti
Thing With Feathers
The angel you caught in your net won’t stop shedding. You gather the feathers from the cracks between floorboards. They stick to the walls, wet with bitter hope and golden ichor. You think you will stuff and sew them into a pillow. You will have the sweetest dreams.
Cheer up, you tell the angel. Aren’t you grateful I caught you in my net? You were falling, you know?
The angel blinks at you owlishly. Was I?
You landed on my lawn, you reply. Practically in my lap.
The angel doesn’t laugh.
They watch old black-and-white shows in front of your television. Films where couples sleep apart in twin beds, under comforters embroidered with ivy and ferns. Where housewives wear polka-dotted dresses with puffy sleeves and hems, and carry casserole dishes as if they’re lighter than the steam they emit. The housewives stay behind while their spouses grab leather briefcases, go to work. They kiss in the doorway. You watch the angel practice kissing on the back of their hand. They have such sharp little teeth. Every vintage dress you buy for them, they tear to shreds.
It’s nice that the angel is practicing how to be good for you, you think. But when you leave the house, they don’t even tell you goodbye. Never even look in your direction. Only watch the television, the window.
When you bring the angel takeout, they gulp it down without chewing. Their spiderling fingers make origami clouds out of the greasy paper. Their nails are growing swiftly, like a newborn’s. Later, you find the regurgitated pellets. When you pull them apart with the tip of your pocketknife, they glint with half-digested anti-matter. Your migraine lingers for hours, strange lights flashing behind your eyelids.
Serendipitous, you tell the angel once your fever cools. Our meeting was serendipitous.
You return from work and admire the industrial-grade netting of your backyard. You installed it yourself after hearing the weather forecast: cloudy with a chance of feather-fall. The angel’s welts from landing in the net at full speed look better than before. They smell of antiseptic cream and aloe, even the parts of their back and wings they cannot reach on their own.
The television shows a couple ballroom dancing, swirling like jellyfish and anemones across the ocean floor. You haven’t danced since your youth. Must be nice to try it with someone so ethereal. But again the angel ignores you. The angel is glued so close to the screen, their eyes reflect pixels and static.
You hide minuscule cameras around the house, catch the angel with their clandestine companion from down the street. The black-clad widow feeds them sunflower seeds from the palm of her hand. She grooms their feathers; sleek little darlings all in a row. I know my wife sent you, the widow says. She knows how I get lonely. How lonely I get.
You watch recordings of your angel in the backyard, stretching their wings to their full span, wrapping the widow in their arms. Practicing flight together.
My people are coming to get us, the white-winged angel tells their black-clad widow. I can’t wait to show you the constellation of your wife.
They say: serendipitous. Our meeting was serendipitous.
In the background, the television actors twirl umbrellas, sing in the rain.
You replace the natural fiber netting with industrial steel, hide sharpened stakes under artificial grass. Thousands in your bank account spent on hostile architecture, awaiting the next feathery thing to land on your lawn.
Avra Margariti is a queer author and poet from Greece. Avra’s work haunts publications such as Baffling Magazine, Lackington’s, Best Microfiction, and Best Small Fictions. You can find Avra on Twitter (@avramargariti).
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