Monday, February 3, 2014

Vignette: The Metaphorical Bird

One day Lauren woke up and she realized that she was a bird.

Not a literal one of course. That'd be stupid. Her newfound bird-ity was completely metaphorical. So metaphorical that it felt kinda like one of those obnoxious art pieces where people got naked, smeared honey on themselves, spoke in French and it turned out to be a metaphor for their penis or some shit. The shit was always their penis. But not this time. This time the shit was a bird and the bird was her.

She told her therapist. Her therapist was bemused.

"So you think you're a bird, Lauren?"
"I know I'm a bird. You don't have to make it sound like a personal attack, dude."

Her therapist was a bookish middle-aged woman, but Lauren liked to call her dude. She also liked to purposely misread her tone of voice. Her therapist hadn't been attacking her and they both knew it. It was one of the hazards of having an initially unwilling client. They had to play the game of obnoxious teenager and intrusive parental lackey long after it no longer served them. Which isn't to say they didn't like each other very much. They were just addicted to the dance, although, as Lauren noticed, her therapist hated herself a little for that.

"A bird." her therapist paused, "What kind of bird Lauren?"
"I already told you man, the metaphorical kind."
"A metaphor for...?"
"Me," Lauren answered smugly.
Her therapist didn't miss a beat, "and how do you know this?"
"It came to me in a dream."
"A dream?" suddenly her therapist was all ears, "I thought you didn't remember your dreams?"

Oh shit. This wasn't good.  She had misstepped. Badly.

"Yeah well," Lauren said, hating the way she was fucking up feigned nonchalance, "I remembered this one."

"I see." Said her therapist. What else was there to say?


The worst thing was, she had liked therapy. Not for the reasons her mom wanted Lauren to like therapy but because it was fun to have someone to play around with. Some days new ideas would pop into her head and it was fun to have someone not be unsettled but still uncomprehending. Now her therapist would think she knew everything about her. Or at least think she was going to learn. Lauren didn't want anyone to learn, she wanted them to leave her alone.

Apparently birds were bad at not singing. Even metaphorical ones.

It wasn't that Lauren didn't dream. It was that her dreams would follow her. Sometimes that could be rough because she remembered when it didn't use to be that way.


"I heard you and Ashleigh had a breakthrough the other day," her mom said a little too happily for Lauren's comfort.
"It's good that you're telling her about the nightmares, dear."

'The' nightmares. Never 'your' nightmares. Articles and possessives were her mother's favorite tools of disassociation.  Modifiers and adjectives were her skillful evasions. It was never 'your' nightmares. And it was never ever ever 'my daughter's nightmares.'

But wait. Hold up.

"How do you know about my session?" said Lauren.
"What do you mean, darling?" said her mother, obviously playing for time.
"Therapy is supposed to be private. Those are rules."
"Oh since when have you cared about the rules?  Besides you think you're a bird."
"Fuck you, I am a bird!"

Lauren was pissed. A little too pissed. She had made a habit of not caring about her privacy and to suddenly find that her habit was self-deception wasn't a pleasant experience. Her mom knew too and she took it as a small victory.

"Darling, oh darling," Lauren's mom said, "when did you get like this? I just want to help you. I just want-"

Lauren walked out of the house.


There wasn't any one moment, that was the problem. No one had died. No one had gotten hurt.


Standing on the roof without the ability to fly off it, metaphorical or otherwise, she felt like a penguin in summer. Maybe she should migrated with the changing seasons. Steal the car, and drive south.  Go to Rio. Where was Rio anyway? Lauren didn't know.

It was a hard thing to be a bird, she was starting to realize. Too much symbolism tended to follow you around. She felt like a literature analysts pin-up girl. She wondered if she would dream something new and less complicated because this metaphor was killing her.

She did not jump off the roof.

Instead she went downstairs and pretended to hug her mother, going through the motions without any of the intent. That was all her mom had ever needed from her anyway so Lauren was left alone and their altercation was not discussed. Which was for the better. Normalcy was restored as much as it could be.

Since she couldn't leave the house, Lauren sat in chair in the living room and pretended that she was driving to the mall. She bought herself a white hat with yellow flowers and was well satisfied with her purchase.

Than it was time to go to bed. So she slept taking great care not to metaphorically molt all over the covers, fearful for what the next day would bring.

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