She Leaves Through the Window

spider

“You’re not a spider are you?” she asked, before we met. We found each other on a bird watching website. She was embarrassed.

“I’m not a spider,” I assured her.

“We will see,” she texted, with suspicious fingers, I imagine. “I will look into your eyes, and I will know.”

She has been looking into my eyes a lot.

She has a long neck, soft feathers, well groomed; her wings tucked under a cashmere cardigan.

“What do you do?” I ask her.

“I work for the government,” she tells me, picking a feather up from the floor and tossing it apologetically into the bin.

I nod, pouring myself another drink. She frowns at it.

“Sorry, I like to drink.”

“Men do,” she informs me.

I shrug. “What is it like working for the Russian government?”

She wobbles her long neck, thinking. “Bad,” she decides. “I get people money, for businesses you know?”

I nod.

“Well, it is strange, today we had so many people outside. They were so angry.”

“Why?”

“We couldn’t help them to find the financial help they needed.”

I move up the corner of my mouth in genuine empathy. It is wasted on her. For the first moment since she arrived she isn’t looking at me. She is looking through me, through the wall, through the trees and the sky and the whole of everything until she finds absolutely nothing.

“It is strange.”

“What?” I ask.

She turns, out of the nothing.

“That something so human as money can turn people to such animals.”

“Yeah,” I say, “yeah.”

I finish my drink, it doesn’t take long

“I’m bothering you.” She smiles. “I will go.”

She gets up, I don’t protest. When her jacket is on and her purse around one wing, she straightens out her neck. We are eye level.

“So,” I manage, “am I a spider?”

She looks into my eyes, I can feel her gaze searching through my stomach; I wonder what I ate today.

“No,” she decides.

“Then what do you see?”

Her eyes pull themselves out of me. She frowns.

“A coward.”

She kisses me anyways.

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