Pages of a Book Made with Feathers

Pages of a Book Made with Feathers

It was a dead pigeon morning — the clot of meat and feathers welded onto the windshield of my Sonata — red, lumpy and leaking. Down feathers snatched by a breeze, the wind took the only napkin off me and afterwards, I sat down for an e-commerce meeting distracted by the bloodied bits under my fingernails. I requested lever-type nail clippers when my secretary said, I hate the taste of feathers, and don’t forget lunch with your aunt. I met my aunt who I had not seen for years at the Cantina and I noticed she had blood in one eye. She ordered a veggie patty burger and when she ate, tiny, red flecks flew from her chomping mouth like unmeltable sparkles. The white table, as haplessly stained as her eye.

The meeting straight after lunch featured a durable kind of tissue paper made from chicken feathers. I dug my nails into the plush of the office chair and asked, do you think it’s possible for a bird, maybe one the size of a small chicken, to fly into glass at high enough speeds so as to flatten into it? Like a bird pancake, on this window. Or your windshield. The sales executive for ‘Feather Touch Tissues’ stomped, shook his head and said, our feathers are plucked from mature chickens and never chicks. He left and I had the rest of the afternoon to myself to remember, years ago, that awful, awful thing I did. My fingernails were still caked with dried blood and it was such an awful thing one did when young that I flinched whenever pigeons neared me. Nobody, nobody liked the taste of feathers!

I have had pigeons watching me from trees in the morning as the sun came up. Pigeons at night casting their long, totemic shadows as I walked to my apartment or my girlfriend’s parents’ one. In my dreams, pigeons in suits and blonde wigs can’t help but rub themselves against me, their cooing so loud as to rattle the champagne flutes between wing feathers.

You have a package, my secretary said an hour before six and left a tiny box on my table. I opened it to reveal a series of pictures. Guess who love rooftop bars? My secretary had written on the back of the box’s lid.

A gang of pigeons roosting on rafters. A teenage boy walks under only to be shat on. Furious, he procures a loaf of bread and tosses crumbs like sand onto parts of the sidewalk tattooed with droppings. The pigeons swoop in and he chases after the feeding birds, stomping frantically on them until there are limping, broken bodies everywhere.

The day after, I woke up to a mass of flesh and feathers dense enough to form a mirror on my bedroom window. I remembered the e-commerce meetings with the exotic sales team of ‘Feathered Flowered Feathers’ and head chef of ‘PIE-GON’, a delicatessen that sold pies of quails featuring a bespectacled pigeon as mascot. My nails bloodied with sticky bird meat; I had never been more afraid of the things that exist above me. More sets of photographs repeating the series of events with different pigeons, different environments and different peoples left on my table. I confessed that I had once killed some pigeons.

The chef said, but I believe flying is less exhausting than walking.

My secretary flapped her arms.

I could not look at her the same after that because she no longer felt human. Even her voice jangled my nerves. The next morning brought another splatter of feathered meat in my microwave and the daily e-commerce meeting would introduce ‘Pages of a Feather’, a start-up that demanded the return of quill pens. I decided to let my secretary go after lunch and she wept a little before leaving another tiny box on my table. I opened the box and found a nest of baby pigeons. They were still alive and I hesitated to give them names.

A month later, only George survived and he insisted that I stuck to breadcrumbs and raw grains. I would lose some weight.

Sihan Tan is a Singaporean writer based in New York City.

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