Among friends


She had lived with the pigeons for so long now she had left behind all memory of her life as a human. All she knew now was the beat of wing on hot summer air, the nervous stuttering grab at abandoned food, the snug reek of the night’s roost. She tended her fellows’ gnarled and broken feet, smoothed their grease-ruffled feathers and reassured them in whatever jabbering language pigeons used.

She drawled her own small feet around the square, cooing sidelong at sun-stricken tourists for treats. A dropped chip. A paper case with a half-eaten burger. Food fit for pigeons, and as a pigeon she welcomed it as feast upon feast.

Her sun-hat, remnant of the life before, fluttered as her family-flock startled skyward in a gunshot-crack evacuation. A dog, huge and unbound, lolloped through the now-empty space, tongue askew from grinning jaws.

She watched as her brothers and sisters wheeled and swerved through the air above the lip-curled crowd.

Her arms, her wings, soared by her side, the updraft filling her flight to join them. She caught a thermal and flapped her clumsy way higher, gazing down on the square below. There – a face she may have known, once. Gazing at her warmly from a past she no longer had. The flock turned again, fled to the rooftops.

She looked around. On the bench, a squirrel worked at a bag of popcorn. She had always wanted to be a squirrel, and now she was.

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