drip, drop, drip drop
they splatter from the arch in the wintry sky
iron and angelic and rotting toward nothing.]
My vision has narrowed down to the open air between the top of the bridge and the rotting pile of- Squeeze my eyes shut, stop the thought. It’s better not to think anyways.I can hear the ticking of the clock that hangs on the wall of the room behind me as I count each breath, reaching ten before I open my eyes again. Just in time to watch another one fall, limbs and wings flying every direction, like a discarded doll.When did it all go so wrong?Another horribly misused body flies down and I can’t help thinking, wondering who it is. What if it’s Kesha or mother or father or- I catch my breath, counting.What did we do?It’s just not possible to stop staring as three, four, five drop down, the first barely hitting the ground before the next is thrown. Each crunch, sickening thud pounds into my head:Why, why, why? There are too many of those to answer, too many to count.Blink, blink, and blink again before I realize that another one is not going to fall. It’s over.I turn from the balcony rail, return to the captivity of these four walls they say are mine. I don’t wish to see the burning.
The smell of singed feathers comes behind him like a lost puppy. It fills up my whole nose, just a different kind of intruder.I rise from the bed, looking down on his head, a new experience. Straighten spine, flaunting this advantage, this false power.It seems to satisfy him. He leaves behind the stench and another why.Why did he come if he said not a word?
The wet hair coils around my fingers as I stare down at my legs through the water. I bend one, letting the knee peak out, glistening with drops. The color stays dark, ten times more so than my usual tone.I hold up my hand to my face, twisting it, this way, that, this way, that. My talons are just as sharp, perhaps sharper, but one of my knuckles has been misplaced.What is happening to me?
This time he brings with him a clean smell. I’m breathing it in before he even opens the door. The click of the lock bounces through my head.I’m already standing and his head tilts way back, surveying my eyes.“You are a success,” his voice is low, slow.Speak each word carefully, “Not understand.”His eyebrows duck down, “You do not understand.”I repeat it back to him, “I do not understand.”He nods, pleased, “What is there to understand?”I search for the words, frustrated with their hard sounds, “What success?”“What is your success,” he corrects automatically. “Your transformation. It was successful.”My hand settles on my hair. It is now smooth and straight, not tufted, nor as soft.It’s their doing.“Why?” the word jumps through my lips.“Why was it successful?” A tint of confusion. “You lived.”Shake my head back and forth, then his meaning clicks.If I was successful because I lived, then they died because they weren’t.But what was the point of this transformation?“Why transform?” I fumble over the sounds.“Why?” His expression is shocked, disbelief practically written across his unnaturally straight nose. “Why combine human and animal? It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine what we could do.”His lips are moving so fast and the words are running together. I replay the sounds again and again until I comprehend them.“I no animal.”“I’m not an animal,” he sighs. “And you’re right. But you’re DNA is still very close to that of a bird’s. We just replaced the genes that weren’t with human ones.”What is DNA? What are genes? Can’t locate them in my limited vocabulary.“I like a bird?” I point to my chest, searching for conformation.“I give up,” he mutters to himself, then louder, “Yes, you are like a bird and now, you are like one of us.”I sit down on the bed, the mattress sinking, sinking. I am no longer myself, no longer one of my own. But I am not one of them either.“What me?” I whisper, staring at my now unfamiliar hands.“You are a success,” he repeats, each syllable said smooth and pronounced.“What else?”He paces in front of me, muscles stiff, taunt, stressed. Nothing comes out of his mouth but air. Finally he pauses, faces me.“We don’t entirely know. We need to run more tests.”“Must think,” I tell him.“We don’t have time-” he starts, angry.“Must think,” my wings unfurl, curling over my head.He backs to the door, “Fine, fine. Call when you want to talk.”I don’t close my wings until he has been gone for a good five minutes.
One, two, three. I count. Four, five, six. The numbers calm me. Seven, eight, nine.I truly have only one option. Obvious.Can’t go home. Can’t stay here. Unless I help.I start over, count to ten.Rise from my chair, approach the wall buzzer.Beep, beep, beep. Three rings is all it takes to join the race that massacred my people.