How could you have trusted me?
From the very first moment when you uncurled from my body and assumed the shape of a glass cage; all fragile and translucent like a frozen drop of water at the tip of a stalactite. Immortally silent but immeasurably breakable
I kissed your damp head and told you I would guard you, and keep alive the tiny black bird that flitted around your insides; the bird that preened its plumage every minute of every day until it was an oil slick of iridescence
But then I forgot to feed it and it screamed louder and louder and louder and LOUDER and my only response was to stopper my ears. I dreamed of when I could fling open the cage door—send the bird off into the greatness—even if it had to flap, lopsided, on one fragmented wing
I don’t remember when I found it dead amongst the droppings at the bottom. I do remember the way its eyes looked, filmy and flat like when you rub at a mirror with a greasy hand. Birds have three eyelids; didn’t you know? I marveled at how clean death was, not a single speck of blood, nothing was in that cage that was not there in life
It had hurt to watch its slow demise. So I didn’t bury it, but threw it in the trash
I swore I would find something to replace it, something more robust this time perhaps a mouse or moth or ferret, but life got busy and I never did, and over the years your cage remained empty
I built up walls around my own Ego while simultaneously dismantling yours. And I told myself it was valid because one has to look after oneself, there’s no sense being a Martyr if you haven’t donned your own mask first
It was inevitable really, and to be expected, though I still acted surprised when it happened—
The day I came to the place where you were hung and instead of seeing your curved barred shape all I saw were shards on the ground
Shards that refracted the light more luminously now you were in several pieces. Shards that threw out rainbows when you could not be put back together. They pricked my skin as I tried to pick them up, leaving me with a bloodied mess, until I couldn’t tell whether the wet stain I stood on was blood or tears or amniotic fluid.
And then the only way I could clean up was to sweep your remnants into a dustpan and discard of you that way, then crush everything else into dust with my boot, even though I know better and I swore to do
Tell me again; Why did you trust me?
Keshe Chow is a Chinese-Australian veterinarian living in Melbourne with three humans and two cats. She was the winner of the Perito Prize in 2020 for short fiction, and her work appears or is forthcoming in Maudlin House, Okay Donkey Magazine, Hobart, Rust + Moth, and others.
photo by Deleece Cook and Jonathan Borba (via unsplash)