She sits down at her dressing table, combing her fingers through long white hair as she watches the bird in its cage.
The bird is a Myrtlegull.
The plaque on the bottom of the cage reads:
“How is that wing of yours to-day, Grandfather?” she asks him, plucking idly at the scale-dusted feathers he has shed. Though dead, they still look like him, still shine with fiery shades of nacre and opal.
Of course she knows how it is. The wing is missing; burnt off.
She reaches for the latch on his gilded prison.
Her fingers click the lock out of place; it slides across her skin. She savours the feeling it gives her, the power to choose over something alive.
The bird comes cautiously, his one white eye gleaming like a pearl in an oyster crusted shut. His talons clutch the golden, twisted poles… almost out. Almost free.
As she watches Grandfather’s white eye flit in a fit of nerves between open door and arm she fingers the necklace hanging heavy from her throat, noting the weight of it, the cold, old feel of lacy filigree an icy web of silver against her skin.
Grandfather inches forward, clutching at the pole holding his weight as though the twist of gilding is a lifeline, as though it is a tightrope between him and salvation.
His head cocks at the star sapphire set in that silvery web. He stares, and thoughts flicker in his tiny brain.