Monday, June 3, 2013

On Dying, and Other Such In-betweens

Eliandra fluffed her wings, which lost her a few feathers. Normally she would have huffed about this, but tonight she was oddly quiet. She bent her right wing in, and for a moment Didey got a flash of what Eliandra might have looked like when she still had her arms, hadn't yet given them for the wings. Her beak would still be a mouth, too. It was odd to think like that. Everyone in their section had taken on something, and after a few months around no one else, it was always odd to remember that most people were all human. None of Eliandra's brown-to-cream wings or dark and shiny beak, none of Didey's fur or claws or backward-legs.

Eliandra turned her beak and started grooming herself meticulously. It bothered Didey for a reason she couldn't name, but she still trusted the feeling. She was going to say, Are you all right? but what came out was, "Do I need to make sure someone's around you?"

Eliandra looked up from her work and then laughed in a way that failed to comfort Didey. "No. Thank you,"

Didey waited. "That wasn't a period."


"That wasn't the end of your sentence. You didn't say something, and you were going to."

Eliandra shook her head, eyes going from unreadable--common enough for birds--to simply distant. "I'm not going to hurt myself. It's fine."

"How do you know?"

Eliandra laughed again, as if someone were hurting her and she didn't know how else to react. "I've been..." She shook her head and groomed, then stopped. Didey's brow furrowed in concern. Eliandra never used extra energy like that. It wasn't a question of looking good; she simply didn't do it. It wasn't one of her standard motions.

Didey started taking some molting feathers out of Eliandra's wings. "You've been?"

"If I can..." Eliandra looked for something in Didey's face. Apparently she found it. "If I can come to the conclusion that the world would in general be better if I were dead, and that my life is going to be consistently painful for me, and plan it out down to weapon, time and place, and making sure someone emotionally equipped to deal with a corpse would find me... If I can think all that, and decide all that, and still find myself too much the coward to go through with it, then I'm not going to go through with it now just because I'm a little jittery after a fight." She shrugged, which may have been an excuse to lean into Didey's grooming.

Didey continued grooming in silence. Then: "I'm glad you didn't."

"Yeah," Eliandra said, "me too."

Eliandra closed her eyes and relaxed. Didey kept moving careful claws through delicate wings, and eventually finished. She must have, at least. Eliandra's wings were clean and shining when they woke up the next morning, curled around each other on Eliandra's living room couch.

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