When Ingrid thinks back on this moment it feels as though she stood in Carey's bedroom with her eyes closed for hours. She hears the first drops of rain splatter the window, someone playing what sounds like a glockenspiel in the bar below, water running through the pipes in the wall. It's only taken a minute for Carey to work up his courage, but in that time Ingrid's cheeks have become bright plums, and she can feel the color, nearly purple, creep down her neck, searching her chest. At least I'm wearing my coat, she thinks.
"Place your hands out flat," Carey says, "As if you intend to push me away."
Exactly what I'm planning, Ingrid thinks, resisting the urge to peek through her lashes, and then she feels them: feathers.
They're not the loose feathers she saw circling Carey's apartment, though. These feathers are alive, ruffling and unruffling, attached to bones like tiny branches of trees. She keeps her eyes closed, not wanting to know what she's touching, not wanting to be frightened out of this moment. She carefully runs her hands up and down the length of these - what? wings - and she's never felt anything as soft, until she stretches her arms higher and touches Carey's hair, and in the spark of a second before recoiling, his curls feel like newborn fuzz.
When Ingrid opens her eyes, Carey stands with his back toward her, and on his back are wings the same colors as those scattered throughout his apartment. She touched them, him. Fondled, she thinks, and turns an impossible red.
"It's a costume?" she stutters, already knowing the answer.
"They're mine," Carey says with a shrug that releases a few feathers. "You're the first person I've shown."
"Jesus," Ingrid swears.
Patricia Caspers is a genre-crossing writer (poetry, essays, fiction) and stay-at-home mom learning to live in The Woods. Her poetry manuscript Life With Fever is a finalist for the Many Mountains Moving book contest. She blogs at Fish Head Soup