Fiction from Mileva Anastasiadou

Wisps of gray on a black background

Photo: Marek Piwnicki

A Bird Has Grown Inside My Throat

It started chirping the day my husband got jailed. I thought it came to celebrate my freedom, that it’d soon sing. The bird started talking instead and soon enough I could barely utter a word as if it took over my voice. As if I lost me.

It’s obviously a parrot, I tell the doctor. The doctor asks what the bird says. I tell him it says stuff my husband said. As if he had that parrot hidden somewhere and put it inside my mouth before they got him. Like what? he asks. I bow my head, remain silent. I don’t repeat those words because they hurt, they hurt more than that lump inside my throat. The doctor nods like he understands, then asks me to open my mouth. He checks inside, it takes him long, he takes pictures, he sighs and sighs. As if he can’t find me.

He says we’ll have to surgically remove it, he shows me the pictures, not only does it talk like him, but it also looks like him, I say. The doctor looks away, like he’s just thought of something, he says, we can’t take it out, you’ll have to spit it out, and it’s my turn to sigh, I wouldn’t have kept it in, if I could take it out. As if he read my thoughts, he says it happens often, sometimes we swallow voices, voices that cage us, he’ll give me meds that’ll make me stronger, that it’ll take time. He frowns while he advises me not to get attached to the bird. He means like I did with my husband but he’s kind enough to not use those words. I shrug and say I’ll do my best but he already looks outside the window. As if he can’t see me.

I try to beat the bird that caged me, but it’s a strange battle, we’re used to birds in cages but not to birds as cages, I scream and scream like the doctor said I should, to silence the bird and get it out, and I get stronger, but freedom doesn’t come easy, as if my husband found another way to keep me trapped, caged, even from a distance, and I know now that it may take time, but I will get rid of the bird inside my throat, I’ll spit it out and I’ll be free.

Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece and the author of We Fade With Time by Alien Buddha Press.

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