by Caspian Gray
Read by Tanja Milojevic
Hosted by M.K. Hobson
Originally published in Kaleidotrope, Summer 2013. Read it here!
They met in a birdcage, in those last precious days before they became birds themselves. They were too panicked to ask each other’s names. The boy beat his palms against the wire bars as impotently as he had beat them against the giant’s fist; the woman brushed her fingers first against her sternum, then along the cage floor, even through the boy’s kinky hair, to prove that she was not mad or dreaming.
“Don’t touch me,” he said, making the order into a question.
The woman drew away. “Are you hurt?” Her hands still moved restlessly, diffident as butterflies. They were in a ramshackle attic full of cages whose inhabitants were sparrows as big as she was.
“I didn’t know,” said the boy. He slumped against the bars of the cage. The woman watched the wire press indentations into his shirt. “I didn’t know there were giants in Ohio.”
“Oh.” The woman squatted next to him, careful to keep their shoulders from brushing. “I didn’t know there were either, until today.” She paused. “What’s your name? Where did the giant take you from?”
“Avery.” The boy’s eyes were as brown as tree bark. “I was in the backyard, working. Who are you?”
Avery blinked. “Jack is a boy’s name.”
Her expression did not change. “But if we’ve been kidnapped by giants,” she murmured, “the only way we’ll ever escape is if one of us is named Jack.”
Rated R. Contains Adult Themes