Meg Kyrie falls in love at first sight with a stranger, and finds a magical feather that fell from the wings of a creature beyond her understanding.
Chapter 1: The Falling of the Feather
Had there been a fly upon the wall, it would have seen nothing out of the ordinary. Even a camera would have seen almost nothing more than an exchange of fleeting glances between strangers. It was business as unusual, the standard for a diverse metropolitan area like Toronto. The planets were not aligned. The stars were not crossed. The clouds did not part. The heavens did not sing. And the subway car maintained its normal route with the precision of clockwork, finding no obstruction.
So naturally, nobody saw the naked little boy that had flown aboard at the last station, gliding with pink cherubic wings and a playful grin. He remained completely transparent and utterly ethereal as he drew an arrow from his quiver.
His wings were like those of a flamingo that was slowly losing its pigmentation. They were soft and radiant, as if a faint hint of bioluminescence laced their divine origin. And as he rose in the corner, taking aim with great focus, the putto lost a feather.
The feather-ended arrows in his quiver came in two varieties: those tipped with gold hearts and those tipped with lead hearts. The arrow he had just nocked to the string was of the former, and was inscribed with a name upon its shaft in a silver script: Blake Bourne. And at its end, the arrow gave way to three golden feathers. Yet, it was not one of these feathers that had fallen to the seat below.
Rather, it was a pinion, a large wing feather. Beside it, sat a young woman. She was five-foot eight inches tall, and her reddish, light brown hair was shaved in a buzzcut. The tiny hairs were just a little longer at the edges of her hairline, quite deliberately, and more so at the back, where they fell in boyish curls around her neck. There was even a thin rat tail, braided and tied with an orange elastic.
Her face was gaunt, with high, flat cheek bones. It gave off an austere sense of beauty, as she wore no great quantity of make-up. This otherwise androgynous look was offset only by a pair of low-hanging silver earrings. They had pearls ringed with beaded silver, like diagrams of the sub-atomic from some alternate universe, where even the fundamentals of physics were different. The beads were swirls of mysterious colour, like planets orbiting a pure white sun.
And in her ears, sat buds of plastic gently pumping music into her ears. The self-doubting, swift-tongued lyrics of Tegan and Sara singing their latest single, 'Hell', were pumelling her thoughts. They were words that, in hind sight, would be quite ironic.
"No, - I'm - not - ready for - big bad steps in their direction,
No, - I'm - not - ready for - downtown trash avoid collection."
The arrow passed into her stationary body without any notice.
And by fluke, she mistakenly heard, "Downtown trash and boy collection." This brought a smile to her chapsticked lips.
The impish archer knew all too well that the closer he was to point-blank range, the more immediate the effects of his arrows.
"Four blocks, run and hide,
Don't walk alone at night."
That was when the subliminal became reality, and she spotted him. Not the archer. Rather, the next target of the archer. The second arrow was enscribed thus: Margaret Kyrie.
Though he did not feel any more than the slow turning of his own head toward her direction and the gentle touch of his shirt against him as he leaned forward, he had indeed been shot. Had he not leaned forward at that moment, perhaps things would have been different.
"Cityscape, city change, before they die.
Four blocks, I should mention, in a song,
If I wanna get along with change.
Who doesn't want to change this?"
And at that moment, he seemed to have spotted her. So she looked away, only to be caught off guard by the realization that she had just blushed.
The cherubic figure, however, was cursing under his breath, for he could not be sure whether he had pierced the young man's heart successfully. This put him in a foul mood for the rest of the day. And all he had to blame was the girl herself, who had caught his attention on her own, and made him lean forward at a most untimely moment.
"I know you feel it too-oo!
These words get over-used,
When we get up and over them,
Up and over it and over them."
Whether he had felt what she had felt in that moment was precisely what she'd be wondering about this moment in the time to come. And then the line that was not really about 'boy collection' nagged at her, because she was fairly certain that Tegan and Sara were both lesbians. In fact, for quite some time, this young woman had been fairly certain that she herself was not interested in men.
"I know you feel it too-oo!
It all seems so untrue,
When you get up and over it and over them.
Uh-oh, uh-no! Uh-oh, uh-no!"
And the jamming of the folk-punk guitar carried on alone for a bit, and she got tired of the song. Craving nothing but the sound of the subway car in which she rode, to clear her mind of what had just happened, she reached into her black, pin-spangled shoulder bag and turned off her iPod.
Her bag had been resting on the seat beside her. As she removed her hand from it, she felt something soft near the opening. Looking down, she saw that it was a feather. It felt wonderful against her skin. It gave off a fragrance so multifaceted that, though weak, threatened to overwhelm her by its sheer complexity. As she stared at it, her gaze was unknowingly captured in the hypnotic pulse of white and pink too subtle to see clearly in the well-lit subway coach.
Finally realizing that he had lost the feather, the winged boy landed on the vacant floor and sneered at the young woman. This was a futile and childish act, since he could not be seen. Turning around, he bent over and shook his naked butt contemptuously in her direction. Then, stamping his foot, he pouted.
Oblivious, the young woman stroked the feather as she braved yet another glance at the young man who had caught her eyes with instant infatuation.
His jet-black hair was thick and clean, and his sideburns thinned down along his jawline into a thin goatee. It was so black that there was no brown, and this seemed almost unnatural to her in an exotic way. However, his skin was fair and kept so by the winter's presence.
She could picture herself running her hand along that line of hair above his neck, comparing it to the feather in her hands. Her thoughts mused, I bet he'd feel even softer than this.
Though he was not looking at her, he smiled to himself. And then turned slowly, his gaze panning towards her. The white, round fingerpress shape of his earrings struck her as a fitting juxtaposition to his dark hair. Yet she quickly looked away, and tried not to let the blood run to her face.
Does he turn to look at me for the same reason? she wondered, as she stared upward with a smile.
The furious little boy watched this resentfully, as he tried to pluck the plume from her by the calamus. However, his little hands went right through it and her too. For a moment, he considered what would have worse consequences, phasing out of his ethereal state to reclaim it or letting her escape with it.
Then, he decided upon a course of action. With one hand, the one that wasn't threatening to tear at his wavy brown hair, he reached back behind him and down into the depths of his quiver. From it, he removed a silver quill and a black-feathered arrow tipped with a heart-shaped piece of barbed lead. Holding the arrow horizontal and having licked the tip of the silver quill, the pink-winged boy began to write a name along the shaft of the arrow. He grinned mischieviously as he spelled out, for a second time that day, the name, Margaret Kyrie. Then he paused to glare at her for a long and satisfying moment.
The young woman felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, and got the strange, irrational feeling that someone was watching her. Suddenly, she felt cold - and this made her all too well aware of the warm feelings that had been elicited by the stranger seated three seats away.
The doors opened. It was not her station, nor was it the station of the black-haired young adult. People came and people went, all of them mildly unusual, as usual. And that was when the winged boy flew out of the subway car, nocking the lead-headed arrow to his bow as he went. Nobody heard his maniacal laughter.
A sense of relief calmed the young woman then, and she looked up to see the young man looking in her direction, possibly at her or possibly at the wall beside her, with an absent-minded look on his face.
The subway train pulled out of the station, and veered onward to the next stop.
She removed the ear buds from her ear and wound them around her iPod, letting the feather rest on one leg.
Wanting to switch trains at the next station, the young man rose to his feet.
As he did this, she noticed the shading of his tight, deeply blue denim jeans, how they emphasized the muscles of his calf, thigh and butt in a way she found profoundly attractive.
She watched as he directed an elderly lady to his former seat with one deft hand gesture while running his other hand through his short, black hair, making it stand on end without gel. He flashed a smile to nobody in particular, and then walked away.
Sad to see him go, and full of hope for the impossible that she might see him again, the young woman tucked the feather into her bag, and rose to her own heels. Then, caught with the sudden urge to catch up with him before they reached the next station, she dashed forward and darted between people, shocking them with her brash senselessness as she grappled the bars of the subway car one by one.
Then she stopped abruptly, realizing that she was right beside him and now had no idea what to do or say. She began to tremble, and her body felt incredibly warm just to be standing so close to him. And then she braced herself as the train pulled into the station.
It wasn't her stop. But when the doors opened and he got out, she followed.