No one could accuse us of not playing by the rules. There’s a warning, after all. A “No Exit” sign, smack dab in the window. Can’t miss it. Just left side of the door.
The building was our first concession, mind you. We used to wander by the roadside, camp in meadows. Ah, but the cold got in our bones after several thousand years. And the property was cheap, an old slaughterhouse abandoned.
Now, we’ve gotten used to shelter, even with the peeling paint, chinks between the bricks. Soot that creeps around the windows. There’s a gravity to our threshold. A “one-way-only” vibe. No one slips away.
Almost no one. There was that one girl, awhile back. She was hard to miss. Bright orange slicker and rain boots festooned with pineapples and ducks. She stomped in every puddle. We made our “tut tut” noises. Shook our heads. Crossed our arms.
Might be she heard us through all the bolts and locks. A whisper “tut” set loose. She stopped right at the doorway, head tilted to the left. She rubbed her chin, smudging dirt. Stood there for an hour, maybe. We aren’t good with mortal time. It could have been a decade or a blink. Then, she up and left.
Of course, we had to search for her. We tried all the usual outlets — milk cartons, newspaper ads, hospitals, the coroner. We meant to notify the authorities, then realized that meant us. We put up posters, trolled social media sites. We’d have hired a detective, but no one works for us.
We never actually found her, but sometimes we heard rumors. A girl who flew — flew! — off a Tibetan mountain. A child who fed entire nations from the breadcrumbs in her pocket. A woman who gave birth to rivers. A crone who wove starlight into keys that could open any lock.
That last trick got our goat. It’s true our tools are ancient — spindle, measuring rod, and shears. There are splinters, bits of rust. But we have eternal rights to warp and weft, and we don’t take kindly to usurpers.
The Greeks had more respect. Pity. How long ago was that? We don’t get out much, lately. Our joints, you know. Especially when it rains.
There was a deluge on the day she left us. Perhaps that’s why we were so slow. That bright orange slicker! Bird’s nest hair that had never seen a comb. Oh, she walked defiance. And there we were, holding to the thread we’d spun and measured for her. Colorless and short.
“Tut tut,” we said, perhaps too loud. She had mismatched knee socks above her rubber boots, one a purple argyle, the other rainbow spots. “Tut tut,” we repeated, louder still.
No one could accuse us of not playing by the rules. There is a sign, “No Exit.” Can’t miss it, really. Left side of the door. Is it our fault, do you imagine, that she never entered in?
Learn more about Wing-Feather Fables here