A Season of Flies
Sometimes calm before the storm is as fierce as the storm itself
At first it’s feathers. Scattered on the windowsill in the morning, dropped onto the path on your way to work, covering the backs of pigeons that push at you for crumbs. Nothing unusual, just feathers.
Then they start to show you things: words, symbols, arrows, in a language you shouldn’t know how to read. The pigeons no longer want your scraps, but your ear. They whisper to you about the arrival of gods, the surging of the ocean, the strength of a wind that you feel in your veins. You gather feathers off the window, bring them into your home, arrange the symbols on the floor and the walls. The wind picks up and rattles the door on its hinges, blows stacks of papers off your desk, but the feathers don’t even flutter. They stay fixed on the ground, burning their memory into peeling linoleum and water stained ceilings.
It’s not that you forget, it’s just that it doesn’t matter, and you don’t go to work anymore. You barely even leave the flat. Your neighbor is worried. He comes over, brings you food, asks if he should call anyone and you thought you’d be annoyed by him, the way you are with everyone else who stares at you. Everyone who frowns at the way your hair has grown too long and hangs down like an unwashed curtain to hide your too-bright eyes, frowns at the grass stains on your sweater and the dirt under your nails. But you’re not annoyed at him, you’re hungry. You’ve been hungry recently in a way that you can’t begin to understand, deep down in your stomach, deep in your bones, clawing its way back up to pound at your temples like a headache. And when he looks at you, you see blood. Soft flesh marred with claws, talons at his throat, teeth at his neck, running down to his collarbone. The wind blows its fingers through your matted hair, urging you on, and you slam the door in his face.
You find yourself in the woods with vague memories of walking barefoot through a field, but part of you doesn’t remember leaving the building. Your feet are bleeding from stumbling over stones, and you marvel at the way it feels to wade in mud up to your ankles. The birds call to you overhead and the wind whispers in your ears. You sink further down into the earth, fingers brush against your arms, claws dig into the skin of your stomach, dragging you down until your breath slows to match the pulse of the ground beneath you.
When you pull yourself up, it is to spread your cloak of dark blue feathers and tip your face into the sun and breathe in the smells of the forest. You blink as you turn the key to your front door. On the floor, feathers whisper around your bare feet. On the wall, your clock has stopped. The wind wraps its arms around you, breathes its cold platitudes down your throat and back into your veins. You open the window. There are people in the streets below, but they are asleep. You barely see them beyond the colored seams in the leaves that they scuff along the ground. You turn your head and see a bird on the ledge below you; its feathers are a lighter grey than yours. You smile a greeting and the wind tucks your hair behind one ear.