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Three Peacocks

Constantine Blintzios

In a town neither of us was from, where at that time of day the light was flesh-pink and edible, we gathered close to each other and saw something move in the trees. Urine that pressed at the skin within my skin, left in sheets from my body as we looked at the shapes in the branches with their foreign songs and universal pulse. It all dropped from us like a sheet from our bodies.

Cut to three days prior to this. You will find us flying. You will find us oblivious to the fact that we are flying. Crunched! Into the capsule of unplugged souls, pressure hollowing out our skulls as when bored children disembowel loaves of bread with their fingertips and roll them up into soft dirty balls. This ‘being rolled’ between index and thumb was our short journey from the UK to where we landed. Wind in our guts, evermore compressed next to each other and everyone else. I pushed and pulled against her in more ways than one; language lodged like difficult meat, in places we dared not glance.

On flights one is given certain choices. All of these are laid out in a free catalogue that is stuffed into a blue square pouch in front of your knees. The next few hours reek of all the things at your disposal. Tucked in with this catalogue is a paper bag meant for catching nausea, papery safety, just in case someone needs to vomit. Oh! and there is always an instructions card. Every difficult emotion flattened into a small, detached image of someone you hope never to be, safely illustrated, safely alien. 

I pick up the catalogue, I never forget! As I flick through, model after model stares up through the surface and past me with a kind of relaxed tension, scaling a thousand no man’s lands to reach me, somehow this is how things feel when in flight. 

Other than taut figures, pressured by everything and everyone outside the frame to look like swimmers caught in sunbeams, the next few juice-stuck pages are all a mosaic of amber whiskey bottles, dark blue perfume and tattooed chests, object after image after thing. I flutter through with someone else’s crumbs machine-gunning my eyelashes. I fall onto a page with a grilled cheese sandwich, zoomed in, dripping like a man’s oiled grin, a price is printed next to it in chunky red font. I might order it. Then I feel her fingers squeeze my forearm as she hands me the right earphone and we listen to the same set of voices until we land.

Cut back and we’ve been on the ground for a few days, in this place neither of us is from. The light is flesh-pink and edible, the colours in both of us are flesh-pink and edible. We haven’t touched our earphones in days, haven’t thought about what came before landing. I drank a small bottle of beer on the walk up to where we are and the pressure in my bladder doesn’t bother me, not really. The flight described a few sentences ago was never really flight. Flight is more like the dream of flying, no? What I was feeling changed rather gradually, through each particle of time, through the trickle of this fresh element into my skin’s pores. Being locked into a machine can’t really be flight. The cacophony, of howling children and wind-bubbled adults and the stench of life trying to find itself is a loud cage at our backs now. The animals inside me stopped shouting at the animals inside her, we didn’t need to be listening to the same voice anymore, we were silent and understood the flesh-pink hue hovering over cobblestones in a country we weren’t from. She was my smiling lookout when I went to piss in a corner, between a white van and a power generator. We were outside the grounds of a historic site. Stone towers peaked over the wall. A tipsy, semi-kind tourist had given us her used tickets but it didn’t fool anyone, so instead we wandered the outskirts like hyenas, drinking small beers in flesh-pink light. I stared over the generators as I pissed. The warmth between everything I saw and everything I felt was like an intelligent tongue. 

She spotted them first and with a changed voice told me so. I zipped up but forgot to buckle the belt, like a drunk-person and came closer to her as she guided my jaw with the palm of her hand towards the trees. Three dark shapes in the branches, like hammocks. Dark, curved. Spread between pine branches and white caterpillar nests, almost astrological. The look on her face made me think of my reflection in the water of a rock-pool somewhere in my childhood. We came closer to the thick steel bars separating us from a history we hadn’t researched. The birds in the pine trees made more sounds as we approached, sounds that ricocheted between our bones and thoughts, sounds that could pause a thunderstorm, this thing that was happening took root in our lungs and we were suddenly there but also elsewhere. They sang and we followed them… right up to the bars, pressed our faces into the metal, we pushed so that we might fit into that other space. Not because of history, because of birdsong. 

Peacocks, two cocks, one hen at rest but not inert. A covenant, bodies like folded umbrellas. We were looking through steel bars at the center of the universe and knew not to make a sound. 

We finally moved away from what was in the trees, down a side street. An elderly woman talked from her balcony to a small cat and threw him a bundle of fish bones from above. Our faces bore vertical red dents from having pushed against the bars for too long, the sun had set in that time. We passed the cat with its open mouth and arched neck, we passed the old woman who ignored us in a language that wasn’t ours. We stepped over the bones, our hearts still whispering. 

The noise has kept us alive ever since.

~

Constantine Blintzios is studying for an M.St in Creative Writing at Kellogg College.

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