Leda and Other Birds

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There are many things I do like. The way the light passes through our blinds in the summer in perfect slits. The way the light, like today, in the winter, pours through the folds of our heavy drapes. I do like how the scoops of light fall on our bodies, in bed; you could turn them into language.

Z— listens to my dreams, and I like the way he does that. The way my mouth is a hand in his head, flitting through photographs. I read an article once that said dreams are a boring subject to someone if they are not involved in them, but an exciting subject if they are. Z— is never in my dreams.

"I was flying last night."

Z—'s right hand falls on my thigh. My finger traces it like the little hand turkeys from grade school. I stick my feet out from under the blankets, just to feel the cold air around the room; I like doing that then tucking them back in.

"How?"

Z— always likes the details; his Venus in Virgo. Anyway I tell him. The details of the dream where my grandfather is a hundred feet tall and I wrap his tongue around my waist, looping it through belt loops, and he swings me around like a lasso and in the end I am soaking wet because of all the clouds I was beaten through. Z— laughs.

"Your grandpa," Z— mumbles. He always knows how to say things with vague finality, empty enough that I can fill its space with whatever I wish.

"Yeah." When my grandfather died, in real life—not the dream, he left me a collection of exotic bird feathers pressed into glass. There were problems with his will though, and to this day, I have never seen them. "Yeah, he was crazy." I think what Z— likes about me is that I always know when to start and finish a story.

Z— runs his hand down my thigh and leaves it on my shin for a while. He taps it once before he takes it away and turns over onto his side, away from me. "There's a Christmas party at work by the way," he says. "I don't know if you want to go."

"Maybe." The sunlight on him stays in place, but its shape is now a little ragged, twisted by his back muscles. I like them.

"I think I'm going to nap till then, then."

Then then. When I was younger I remember this grammar and composition book that I had which said, You cannot end a sentence with because because because is a conjunction. I'd like to tell Z— this but he's tired, which I get it, I guess, since work has been heavier at the factory.

"He was such a crazy man." I still trace my finger around where Z—'s hand was.

"Who?"

"My grandfather."

"Oh."

I'm trying to keep the ghost shape of Z—'s hand on my thigh. "You know he had a liver transplant? A kidney one too. All at sixty-two, and he still drank. Can you believe that?"

"No," Z— says. I smack his back and he chuckles.

"And both parts belonged to a pregnant woman too. So weird: she was in a bad car crash, right outside the hospital, and she was the exact blood type and all as Granddad. And the organs were okay, not a scratch. Makes you think."

Z— sighs.

"You know what he did die from?" I look at our popcorn ceiling, and draw up faces from the pockets of shadow, ridges and flatness. I've always liked doing this: the demon faces in woodgrain, the dummy face Z—'s sock drawer makes when he leaves it open, the knobs like eyes and the socks like tongues. "It definitely wasn't drinking. It actually has something to do with the pregnant woman's husband. Do you want to know?"

Z— is quiet for a little, then, "Not really."

"He was the son of a diplomat, and he had a hook for a hand."

"What?" He tilts his head toward me a bit.

I snort and Z— groans. "No, but really, you won't believe it. It was because of her husband my Granddad died."

"Leda."

"What?"

"You know I don't like hearing about stuff like that."

"I know." But I do.

I stretch my legs over Z—'s and scratch them against his hair; it's like steel wool. The wind picks up and blows through the drapes, smoothing out the folds. The light is all over us. I raise the blanket up and the wind is sharp against my legs; I can feel the tingle skip through to my armpits and the back of my neck. Z— tries to pull the blanket back his way. The sky outside is white, watching, and just outside the window there is a little hummingbird, beating her wings.

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