Chapter Sixteen


Bee wasn’t sure just how she’d been transformed into a bird, but there was no denying the fact that she had. At roughly a foot tall and just under twelve ounces, the apartment felt much roomier now, especially now that Bee could inhabit surfaces and shelves that had previously been out of reach. If she felt like it, she could spend entire days on top of the medicine cabinet, or the top shelf of the linen closet.

She surveyed the kitchen from her perch on the refrigerator in apartment 2S. She’d never seen her kitchen from this perspective, and it took a moment for her to recognize objects from this angle. Under ordinary circumstances, the contents of Bee’s kitchen barely registered as much more than background visuals, the static of her ordinary apartment dwelling existence; now she stared at them, as fascinated with them as if she were looking at moving fractal imagery.

The kitchen stove, for example. She had never noticed just how many shapes it consisted of: four ring burners placed neatly and orderly into the white rectangle of the stovetop; four corresponding burner handles on the face of it, just above the oven door handle, which itself served as a kind of underscore – a shiny underline emphasizing the burner handles as if to say, in all caps “RIGHT HERE, THIS IS WHAT MAKES IT WORK.”  

Clearly, in her current state, she wouldn’t be cooking. But then, she didn’t really need to – there was food everywhere: leftovers stuck to dishes that had been hastily piled into the sink the previous night; an open bowl of pretzels on the kitchen table; even the detritus accumulating under the kitchen table was now a reasonable dining option.   

Bee breathed in. It took much less effort than it used to. So did most things: standing, for example. Typically Bee could only tolerate standing for a few minutes at a time, a result of too many years working retail, which had ruined her back. That was one of the main reasons she had switched careers, moving from her job at Urban Outfitters to various temp jobs to her current position as head of development at a software company. Now that she was a pigeon she was so light – every part of her, even her bones were light – they were hollow for chrissakes, the effort required to stand was minimal.

Bee took a moment to explore the sensation of standing on her pigeon feet. To test her balance she tentatively lifted a pink foot, which easily bent up towards the soft feathers of her underbelly. Standing on one foot, she marveled at the sensation of being virtually weightless, and a shudder passed through her, manifesting itself in a geometric progression of movement along her feathered body. It started at her neck, and undulated down her chest until her entire body shook and she reflexively opened her wings to give them a good flap before resting the raised foot back onto the top of the refrigerator.

“This is fun,” she thought, “this could be really fun.” She felt quite satisfied with the leg raising experiment. Just then, a sound came from somewhere in her gullet, vibrating through her chest and through her beak. “Am I cooing?” She wondered. It was hard to tell from inside her head, where everything refracted off the architecture of her hearing apparatus, making it seem both louder and less defined than the sounds coming from elsewhere. Sounds which, in her current state, carried much further than the sounds she was used to hearing as a human. Bee could hear the tiniest movements – the sound of a spider walking up the side of the building, which, although she’d never heard before, she was able to identify instantly. It sounded to Bee like someone absentmindedly tapping a guitar pic on the side of an instrument. She could hear the sound of bird feet making contact with a tree branch outside the kitchen window, which was a bit like the sound of a pretzel rod falling on a napkin. On the street below, someone walked by with a sandwich in their hand, and Bee could hear them chewing a bite of it as they walked. It was an obnoxiously loud sound, somewhere between the sound of a front loading washing machine in mid–cycle and a heavy rain falling on a skylight. The sound of her own feet, she noticed, made a clicking noise with every step, like someone opening and closing a metal barrette.

Bee felt like a kid – every sight, every sound, every sensation was new, distracting, engaging. She wished there was someone to experience it all with. “Listen to this!” She wanted to say as she experimented with lifting a forgotten scrap of paper off the top of the refrigerator with her beak and then dropping it again.

A sound broke Bee’s reverie, one she could only compare to the sound of a drawbridge being slowly pulled up and then lowered while traffic idled, waiting to move again. It was, she realized, the front door of the apartment being opened and closed.



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