I wake in the shell of a crumbling building that I have been calling home for the last few weeks. It may have been a church once, maybe an armory. Anything that would have made this more clear has been long stripped from the cavernous space. Large gray weathered blocks of stone tumble from a ruptured outside wall, the deep V allowing me to see the rising sun and the skeletons of trees in the distance.
I am in a nest of pillows and blankets that smell of fresh straw and heather, blood and sex. My head aches, my mouth is dry and I don’t remember coming back here last night. If I am completely honest, I don’t remember much at all of last night. What little I can recall is a kaleidoscope of impressions: a biker bar, the smell of leather and smoke, the taste of smooth whiskey. Raucous laughter, loud music. The pile of cash spilling out of the pocket of my discarded jeans makes me think I must have had a good night at the pool table.
I untangle myself from the embrace of blankets, stand on the hard stone floor and stretch my naked body, working out the morning stiffness. It is then that I notice you sitting in the shadows a few feet away staring at my unfurled wings. Thousands of white feathers stretch across the framework of these hollow bones. I note that I could use a bath or a shower. My feathers are dull and crumpled from sleep.
I am vain about my wings.
Your expression is unfathomable. You are not unattractive and appear to be in a similar state of undress. For the life of me, I cannot remember if you are last night’s lover or my prisoner. I consider our nudity, my swollen knuckles, your split lip. The dried semen on my thighs, the dried blood on my naked belly.
Could go either way. Perhaps both?
You do not move any closer to me. I cannot tell whether you are currently restrained or just cautious about approaching me. I wish again that my memory of last night was clearer. How much did I drink last night?
“Are you an angel or demon?” you ask from your corner. You sound more wary than frightened.
I consider your question, turning it over in my mind. It’s a fair question. I grab the bottle of water next to the makeshift bed and take a long swallow before responding to you.
“Does it matter?”