The wire whispers high in the trees. A sigh strung between gossiping branches. When the sun shines directly above, it is invisible, and they float en pointe from tree to tree. Apparitions. I have watched the albinos for days and only just found out that this is what they do every afternoon. How did they hide it from me before? Or perhaps they were not hiding at all. My attention is not what it was, if it was ever anything.
Commelina walks with me every afternoon to watch them, almost from the day I first discovered their afternoon practise. It’s the only time we two get along, but we rarely acknowledge one another’s presence. That could be why.
I think she knows them. Or at least their arrival here is significant to her. It did happen just as she was beginning to go backwards.
She’s stopped changing now, I think. Either still a cygnet or permanently so. It’s so unusual for her do nothing in a week I don’t know what to presume is happening.
I, however, have stopped growing entirely. Time was I’d grow every day. My nana said she could all but see it happening. Papa thinks that, because I am now tall as mama, I am done. I don’t feel done. My feathers are still occasionally downy. Why is it the world thinks you have done growing when you know that you’ve only really just begun?
It’s in such a hurry to be finished with us all.
I watch the albinos, so high up there and so poised. So certain they will not fall. I envy them so much I have to look away, at my feet, trapped so firmly there on the ground. The albinos know what they can do. What they are here for. And look how they go about it with such confidence. This is how I know I am not done growing, whether my bones agree or not. I still don’t know what it is I can do, and I have little confidence in anything.
I barely even know who I am.
Petra thinks I’m a little simple when I say these things. But everything is simple for her. She knows exactly who she is. Petra’s father is the greengrocer, her mother a seamstress. She knows where they come from, and she wants to be different. Everyone I know is like that. They want to be anything their parents are not, or to be exactly the same.
How do I compete? My papa does something in the city. I have no idea what. He disappears off dressed like a stranger, comes back smelling of smog and heat, and I am none the wiser. Mama keeps house. This should make her simple to know, but she’s always been so remote. Sometimes I watch her floating from room to room and want to ask why she calls me a ghost when she herself is the one who is never really there.
If I do not know who my papa and mama are, how shall I know what to rebel against or to follow? How shall I know our differences if I cannot compare myself against them?
We are all different, and we are all made up of each other; all the things we are and are not we decide by being around others. And we begin with those closest to us. So am I a Blue Jay or a ghost? Mama’s daughter, or papa’s, or neither? I wish I had answers. I have none.
I don’t even have the answers for the history test we’re having in school tomorrow.
Local history. Dull as ditchwater. And ditchwater is truly dull.
Apparently Almado used to be a town, long ago. Everything happened here, and now nothing ever does. I suppose that’s why the answers to the test don’t interest me enough to learn them. This place is a village now. Tiny. Insignificant. Boring. All the exciting things happen in town, or on the outskirts of the town nearest to us. And I never get to go.
I have never left Almado. Mama will not allow it.
Above my head, albinos dance through trees on invisible wire. Beside me, Commelina ruffles her down and preens, settled into the moss as if it is water. And all around us the Blue Jays sit silent. Watching. Beautiful as statues.
If I could choose, I would choose to be a Blue Jay.
Even a silent one.
Even in silence they are more vibrant and alive than I feel.
Perhaps then, I am a ghost?
© Ren Warom 2014