Feathers and Heart Flutters
By Kala Séraphin
Serah felt a strange flutter in her chest. It was so quick that she let it pass without worry. She looked at the time and saw that it was three thirty three in the morning. Her eyes were wide awake and her body compelled her to get out of bed. Her mind, on the other hand, was still floating in another dimension of dreams and ghosts.
“Make a wish…” She mumbled, rollingover and burrying her face in the pillows. She didn’t want to start her day so early.
The wails of a cat kept her from finding slumber again. It was a small, high pitched cry for help she simply couldn’t ignore. The girl jumped out of bed and threw on a sweater and her flipflops. The fresh air roused her mind from sleep as she walked around the building of her apartment. It was still dark. The skies were starting to lighten. She walked through the grass, dew tickling her bare toes. There wasn’t a cat in distress to be found.
“Serah, you are losing it!” She sighed to herself, walking back to her apartment. Yet, she heard it again. A small cry for help that sounded very near.
Serah looked around once more. She found the source hidingbehind a trash bin, trying to disappear in a corner. It was a very small kitten with wide eyes. Serah picked up the poor creature, caressing its short gray fur.
“How on earth did you get here?” She asked. The cat replied with another hearfelt wail. Serah assumed it was all out of hunger, so she took it inside with her.
At this point, Serah was out of reach of sleep. She fed the kitten some tuna from last night’s dinner and started to clean her apartment. She had a busy day ahead and wanted to get her living space in a tolerable state.
At seven, Serah stepped out to a bright sun and cool weather. She left the kitten asleep on her bed, hoping it wouldn’t make too big of a mess in her freshly cleaned apartment. Walking to the bus stop, she noticed a trail of feathers scattered about. They were gray down feathers, tumbling in the breeze. Serah looked around, curious as to what may have happened. It could have been that a stray cat found its next meal or maybe a fledgeling took flight.
Serah met her boyfriend, Andrew, for breakfast. It was his idea to go meet at the restaurant. He was always getting Serah to meet him at random places in the city. By meeting with him twice a week, Serah had discovered more of her city in the three years of their relationship than the ten years she has lived here.
“You’re late.” Andrew exclaimed as she rushed into the small restaurant. Serah smiled nervously. It always put her on edge when he pointed out a fault of hers. She knew it wasn’t judging her but simply stating a fact. However, Serah’s upbringing had conditioned her to be defensive of her shortcomings.
“Sorry, I saved a kitten this morning,” she explained. Andrew kissed his girlfriend sweetly.
“I’m happy to see you.” He declared. Serah blushed at the revelation. Andrew was always so open with his thoughts and feelings. She was always caught off guard when he said such comments. She wondered about the honesty behind it. Then she would doubt that she deserved it.
The couple chatted away happily over a breakfast of poached eggs and fruit salad, looking very normal. Every so often, Andrew would touch Serah, caress her hand or adjust her hair. She would let him do it but she never reciprocated the affection.
“Did you read the news?” Andrew suddenly asked when their coffees arrived. Serah simply shook her head, looking innocent.
“Scientists are predicting a shift in the magnetic poles of the earth. Apparently it will happen next week,” he continued.
“That sounds like a pretty big piece of information. Why aren’t more people talking about it?” Serah asked, adding milk to her coffee.
“I guess people aren’t taking it seriously.” Andrew shrugged, moving the sugar out of Serah’s reach. He thought she consumed too much sugar and would often curb her intake when he had the chance.
“After breakfast, Serah went to her appointments. She went to her hairdresser, changing her hair colour from light blond to dark blond. Fall was coming and so she felt the need to change herself accordingly. Afterwards, she wandered the markets, picking up some fresh herbs. She stopped by a pet shop to pick up some proper kitten food.
The whole time her mind wandered to what Andrew said about the upcoming shift in magnetic poles. Images flashed in her mind of what would be different. She couldn’t imagine how her life could be different.
As Serah arrived home, the kitten ran to her, wailing as it did when she found it. Serah quickly prepared some foods, then sat next to the feline as it devoured its meal. That is when her heart went off rhythm. It went from a steady doomdoom, doomdoom to doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom. Though Serah was quick to notice the change, she did not feel any different. Observing herself in the mirror revealed that her face remained unchanged. She placed two fingers on her throat, fascinated with the new rhythm of her heart.
She spent the rest of the day in bed, listening to her heart. They rhythm sounded familiar, like a song she once heard on the radio. She started drifting in thoughts about her life. At the age of thirty, she had accumulated much of what people deemed desirable. She had a comfortable home, financial security, a great boyfriend, many friends and a very simple job that required her to show up once a month at a fertility clinic to sell her ovums.
Looking at her life, feeling her strange heartbeat, Serah couldn’t help but conclude how bored of her life she was. It was safe, predictable and boring.
“Things need to change,” was her conclusion. The kitten struggled to jump on Serah’s bed and curled up on her shoulder.
It was a short lived snuggle for Serah left her apartment soon after. It was night andshe had no destination in mind. She let her feet take her down the maze of her urban neighborhood. The first thing she noticed, what she couldn’t avoid, was that the streets were now covered in feathers of all kinds. It kept raining feathers as she walked around, fascinated. Other people going about their daily business also looked around curiously. No one dared to stop and ask why or how. They were all terribly busy with their errands, aches, pains and goals. Serah actually stopped her mindless wandering when she saw a middle aged woman step out of a conveniencestore. A few feathers fell on her, clinging to her hair and jacket. The woman panicked in a most subtle manner. She violently brushed off the feathers, looking disgusted. She then ran to her car, not wanting to encounter the rain of feathers more than necessary.
“What is happening?” Serah finally asked the question out loud. The passerbys chose to ignore her as thhey did with the feathers. A few gave her side long glances, wondering why she wasn’t pretending the feathers weren’t there. After all, if everyone ignores a problem, it will eventually go away, right?
Doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom went her heart.
Serah continued on her way, walking mindlessly. She kicked the feathers as she took her next step, watching them slowly float back to the ground. It reminded her a little of snow. Growing up, she always enjoyed playing out on snow days. However, in this instance, Serah had no inclination to play with the feathers.
“Where are all the birds?” She asked out loud. Once more, her question went unanswered. Serah went to the first coffee shop she found. There was no one else. She sat down at a table in the middle of the store, looking very out of place. The waitress came to take Serah’s order, looking very bored.
“Where are the birds?” Serah asked. The waitress’ eyes grew wide for half a second.
“I don’t know. Does it really matter? They’re just birds,” was her reply. Serah ordered the sweetest drink on the menu, taking advantage of the fact that Andrew wasn’t there to monitor her.
The waitress brought her sugary drink, lazily placing it on the table. She spilled some of it on Serah but took no notice.
Doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom went Serah’s heart as she looked at the spill.
“Excuse me, do you love your job?” She asked.
“No.” The waitress answered, her expression deadpan.
“Why do you stay here?” Serah asked.
Because her tone was simply curious and without judgement, the waitress felt comfortable enough to sit down with Serah. She pulled out a pack of cigarettes and took one out. She lit it and took a deep drag, exhaling slowly, enjoying every moment of it.
“I’m thirty five now, I have two kids to feed and no one to help me. I do what I can to survive.” She shot back.
Serah took a moment to think about it. She felt like she was in the same frame of mind of doing what she could to survive. However, Serah’s life had always been a graceful experience of getting what she desired. She wondered what the difference could be.
“So…you think you don’t have a choice?” She asked.
The waitress shook her head, gazing out of the window.
“I have nothing going for me. I’m not smart, pretty boring to look at and I’m not even good at this shitty job. I hate it…but I’m grateful for it. It pays my bills, feeds and shelters my kids and I save up enough to go dancing on Friday nights.” She explained.
Serah smiled as she followed the waitress’ gazeoutside to the rain of feathers.
“That’s funny,” she started. “I love my life. It’s easy and comfortable and I have everything I could desire. I could go out dancing every night if I wanted to. But I’m not grateful for it.”
Both women looked at each other with a playful smile on their lips.
“Shit… Your life sucks. You should come work here.” The waitress chuckled.
Serah paid for her sugar fix then went on her way. She continued to follow the feathers, now pondering issues of gratitude and its lack in her life.
She stopped at a street corner and couldn’t make up her mind as to where to go; left or right. She looked down the street on her right and noticed that there wasn’t a single feather on the street. It was a quiet, clean street devoid of the feathers. To her left was another quiet street yet it was littered with feathers, covering the parked cars and sidewalks completely. Serah chose the street with the feathers. She admired all the colorful feathers and listened to her heart doom, doomdoomdoomdoom, doom, doomdoomdoomdoom. She wondered what it would take to have more gratitude in her life.
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