original public domain art by Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita
listened to this while writing: Michael’s Song by The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble
Alina. When I was a debutante I often went to the zoological garden.
Fade in. We hear muffled sounds of the ball. We are in a dimly lit closet, featuring two masked figures. Their conversation happens entirely in bird noises. We as the audience of course know bird language and can effortlessly follow them.
Olga. So you know anything about the birds there?
Olga lights her cigarette. As she does so, we see the pearly white feathers covering her body. The smoke quickly fills the small room. Alina coughs softly and opens a tiny little window, letting the fresh air in and the grey fog out.
Alina. You know that the Order would not approve of this.
Olga. You worry to much. I know the you like to think that you worry exactly the right amount, but I heard it’s bad for your nerves.
Alina. I’ve heard the phrase “birds of feather go to Florence together”.
Olga. Was it your mother?
Alina. At the garden. We all had a secret under our wing. She didn’t tell me what it was, but I was so naïve back then…
She gently flaps her left wing, the right one falling down as a counterbalance. Her beak stretches upwards and towards the pale moon that we can barely see through the tiny window. She closes her eyes in thought about her youthful past.
Olga. Did you see the new Lion King?
Alina. I enjoyed that one.
Olga. Monarchist propaganda.
Alina. You could say that.
Olga. I just did.
Alina. Mufasa roaring in triumph over the corpses of the republican revolution isn’t the best scene, I agree.
Olga. I think you are missing the point.
We hear soft, but determined footsteps approaching from outside the closet. Alina and Olga hold their breaths, as a shadow appears under the door. After a few moments it disappears and our characters relax a little. They look into each other’s eyes seeking for comfort, but do not find it there.
Alina. Have you ever met my mother?
Olga. I don’t think I ever had the chance…
Alina. She once said “Alina, you will be so great at the balls”. But I didn’t want to be great at the balls, you know? My only wish that I had, and I still have to this day… is to fly away. I dream about Florence, and the flowers, and the summers. How can I not?
Olga. There is not much to it. (she vaguely gestures around) The same old story, the same old flowers and summers.
Alina. I would like to see for myself. Perhaps now is my chance.
Olga. I’m sorry I can’t take you with me. I worry that you will not make it. It is far to dangerous to cross the ocean for you.
Alina. That time at the zoological garden. They told me I would fly…
Olga. Did you talk to the Order? What? They offered you a deal?
Alina lifts her right wing revealing an audio recording device. Olga jumps a few centimetres back in shock.
Alina. What did you do Olga? Why are they looking for you?
Olga. The fact that I ever trusted you makes me sick… (she extinguishes the cigarette by slamming it against the brick wall, she whispers:) Enjoy the rest of the ball.
The cigarette drops on the floor. A flattering of wings, and we see an owl’s silhouette dashing through the open window.
Alina. I’m so sorry Olga…
We hear a series of gunshots. Penetrating the silence of the cold night, like an unexpected thunder over an endless sea.
Alina sheds a single tear, as we fade out from this scene of horrific betrayal.
Published on February 10, 2021.
Spooky action at a distance is a blog run by emmy verte, to muse on sci-fi, fantasy location exploration and short fiction. You can donate to support Ukraine here.