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Human Again

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Story after story he wrote, only to fail to turn her back into a girl.  He tried and tried but it was to no avail.   She’d let him know a million times that she was ok with being a duckling, one day she’d become a swan.  But she didn’t know, and he couldn’t tell her, that his reasons were not purely selfless; he wanted her to return to her human form because he loved her and he knew that if she were doomed to remain a bird for all time she would die long before him and long before her time would come were she human.   He loved her, no matter what form she took, but he did prefer her human shape, and frankly, he missed her conversation, punctuated though it had been with ‘moron’ and “QUA—!’. 

One day, he sat down and his hand moving almost of its own will, wrote a story.   Ahiru floated aimlessly on the lake, near the dock.  The sun was high and glinted off the blue water.  When she looked at herself in the lake expecting to see blue eyes set in a round, feathered face, she started, seeing not feathers but lightly tanned and freckled skin.  Her wings flew to her face and she watched as her reflection’s human hands touch human cheeks.  It had been months since Mytho and Rue had left, months stuck as a duckling.  She missed being human; she missed ballet, bad as she had been at it.  Blue eyes welled with tears and she grinned,  “Fakir!” she quacked excitedly, swimming as fast as she could. 

Fakir looked up from his paper at Ahiru, “What is it?”  He asked, not wanting his writing to be interrupted, afraid that if he stopped, he would lose the moment and Ahiru would never return to her human form.

What do you mean ‘what?’?! I’m a girl again, Fakir!”  She quacked, her duck voice sounding human to her ears.

 “Stop quacking, you know I can’t understand you,” he said, his tone was agitated but his heart broke at the thought.   He watched as her face fell from highly excited to thoroughly crestfallen. 

So, I’m not a girl, then?”  Tears welled in her eyes, she’d told him she was ok as a duck but to have had a brief, shining moment as a girl once again only to have it snatched away, it was too much. 

Seeing Ahiru’s tears, Fakir dropped the pen and went to scoop her out of the water, planning to hold her to his chest as he had done after Charon had struck him and she had appeared to him in duck form, seeking to comfort him as she could never have done as a girl.  Seeing her reflection in the mostly mirror stillness of the lake, he froze.

“Ahiru,” he whispered, “your reflection,” he could see the reflection of a young teen girl with hair the color of coral and freckles across her nose, it was Ahiru the girl, but only as a reflection.  “Ahiru! Stop crying!” he demanded, shocking her into obeying.  She opened her eyes and looked at him, he was hardly breathing, staring into the eyes of her reflection.  Suddenly, she understood, he could see her girl-shaped reflection, too!  “Hang on!  Stay right there!” 

He scrambled back to the desk, reaching for the pen, he dipped it in the ink well, waiting for his hand to continue the half finished line but it didn’t.  They stayed like that, neither of them moving, for several long minutes, until Fakir sighed and put down the pen.  He collected his things and scooped up Ahiru, heading for home.   The next time Ahiru looked in a mirror she saw her human-self staring back at her, but a reflection is just a reflection and a duckling is still just a duckling.