The Thing with Feathers (Excerpt)
When Jan arrived at the office, her Otherlives were pinned to the wall. The hallway leading from behind the front desk out into the data wrangling station was papered in them. Paintings on printer paper, landscapes cut from magazines, photocopies of prog rock album covers, fantasies and dreams of both day and night—all of them featured, somewhere in them, a self-portrait of Jan herself but with some key difference. A Jan with fur or feathers or wings. Jan as she’d imagined herself Other.

This was how Jan took care of herself when the office grew too drab and gray, when the functions of her day threatened to rise up and drown her under a sea of porridge. She cut the photos and glued the pictures and drew what she saw in her dreams. But someone had found her Otherlives where she’d hidden them at the bottom of her filing cabinet. They’d dug them out and exposed them to one and all.

For just a few moments, Jan stared around her and thought her dreams had come true. She would walk down that hallway and emerge somewhere Other, flying free through Other skies. But at the end of the hall there was only her desk in the usual drab, gray office. The windows looked out over drab, gray city, block after block and building, building, building.

Jan’s coworkers, noticing she’d arrived, began to snicker.

She tried to work as though everything was normal. She said nothing about her Otherlives to anyone, and they said nothing to her. Management did not emerge from the central office to have a word about her indulging unorthodox pastimes; neither did management have a word with anyone else about creating a hostile workplace. No one said anything at all to indicate anyone was in the wrong. And Jan’s spirit diminished to the size of the space between her chair and her computer monitor, and she worked, and she wanted to die.

Next day, she did not come back to the office. She walked to her office out of sheer habit, but she did not go inside. She passed it by. She walked onward, west, always west, following the path the sun took out of the city....
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This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for December 4, 2015. It has been designated the Fictionette Freebie for December 2015, so anyone may now download the full-length fictionette (1052 words) in PDF or MP3 format regardless of their Patron status.

Cover art includes cityscape photo from Pexels.com, released by the artist to the public domain.
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