The birds flew away, leaving the dark branches… Probably flew off to look for another lodging for the night. Her thoughts seethed in her, she raised her hand, straightened the fallen strand of hair and handed him a mug.
"Drink, otherwise it will get cold... The coffee must be hot." Her voice seemed frivolous.
“I always drink cold coffee... always...It's probably already a habit," he sighed like a fish settling at the bottom of a swift river.
She shook her little head. "You just stare at it for a long time. You need to drink warm." The chipped windowpane groaned against the wind.
He sat down at the table and began to draw coffee like a cigarette for a long time, painfully, like he was deciding something within himself, or had decided. Maybe she wanted to console him... Maybe...
When he left, there was a sad and dreary trail, faded orange, like wilted flowers.
Gradually it got dark. She threw back the old scarlet blanket and lay down on a sheet, gray in the shadows, covering herself with a thin golden plaid. She wanted to sleep, but saw something... something in the window. A man? A voice? Someone calling to her, so she went there…
A bird sat on the ground, it was as if in a pink mist. The body of the bird began to stretch, the wings turning into thin white arms. Black paws into long legs, golden hair beginning to sprout on its head, and when she looked in the mirror, she saw herself - bird turned man.
And then nakedly, secretly, repeated the question. "Did he address you?" And she answered. "I saw how I myself addressed, the one you are looking for is Me... I am the bird that turned into a man... This is Me... I... I... I..."
An endless repetition arose in her space and remained with her.
And she found herself back in the bed, leaning on her sharp elbows, preening, choking. It seemed that she was sick, something swooping over her, rushing and dying, becoming herself.
She looked at the walls, they were the same gray, the old wallpaper faded on the sunny side.
She raised her hand to the light, looked at her skin. There were a few grayish feathers on it, they were very tiny, breaking through the thin skin.
Nothing surprised her anymore.... nothing.
by Irina Tall Novikova
Irina Tall Novikova is an artist, graphic artist, and illustrator. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art, and has a bachelor's degree in design. Her first personal exhibition "My soul is like a wild hawk" (2002) was held in the museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. Her work has been published in magazines: Gupsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, Little Literary Living Room and others. In 2020, she took part in Poznań Art Week, and in 2022 her short story was included in the collection "The 50 Best Short Stories,"and her poem was published in the collection of poetry "The Wonders of Winter." In her works, she raises themes of ecology, fantastical creatures, and belonging.