Paradise Regained
by Lindz McLeod, 3.24am Sept 10th 2021

He is a cruelly handsome man, with eyes like Brad Pitt and a mouth like a massacre. She is a cruelly beautiful woman, with hair like Sofia Vergara and eyes like late stage syphilis. I sit between them on their unstained, margarine-soft leather couch, and sip my red wine as if this is a perfectly normal Thursday evening.

“What do you think of the wine?” He smiles.

“I have more dead relatives and lovers than seems plausible, even for rapidly-industrialising Victorian London.” I clutch the stem of my glass, fur rippling with anticipation.

The woman rolls her eyes. “Ken, we’ve been over this. She can only talk in Philip Pullman plot lines. She was extremely clear about it in her bio, weren’t you darling?”

“I’ve just received an anonymous letter warning me to avoid something which is ambiguously named.” I nod. “I immediately begin searching for it.”

“Sorry.” Ken’s eyes rake my body. “So, how are we going to do this?”

I put my glass down and turn to the woman. “You are a kindly authority figure who has given a powerful, priceless and unique artefact to a pre-pubescent child,” my webbed fingers trace the line of her jaw slowly, confidently, “who has no far shown no aptitude for anything other than achieving maximum grubbiness.” I lean in for my best approximation of a kiss. My feathers are already fanning out and I can feel Ken’s warm hands stroking the stub of my smooth tail. “You give the child minimal instructions on its use and no information on its value.” I shoot him a coy look over my shoulder as he unbuckles his belt. “You expect this to turn out just fine.”

He grips me harder around what he probably thinks of as my torso. “Emelie,” he purrs, but there’s no need. She’s already unzipped her dress.

“My anatomy is absurd and leaves no room for a functioning nervous system.”

“That’s so hot,” Emelie unclasps her bra.

They prove fast learners. By the time we make it into the bedroom, my wings are buzzing. Sharp clip-clip-clips punctuate the smacking of mouths and the sound of feathers pressing against flesh.

I dig my claws into Ken’s back as he thrusts. “I’m a thinly-veiled metaphor for the early Catholic church,” I pant. He begins to speed up so I dig in harder, despite his wincing. “No, thinner than that.”

His smile is half-smug, half-agonized as he keeps the steady pace. He drops his face into the crook of my long neck, nuzzling, as I tilt my beak back towards Emelie. She’s a fine human specimen—they both are—but her eyes are full of a presence I’ve rarely felt before. She never closes them to kiss, and her shuddering brings me closer to a meandering climax.

When I finish, I spray my orange eggs towards the tarp on the floor. They’d been warned preemptively and I’m pleased to see they follow my instructions to the letter. After the younglings hatch, their freshly-sharpened claws tend to wreck hardwood floors. Much better to take them down to the beach and let them loose there.

I settle back against Ken’s chest. “I’m chasing an absent father figure but when I eventually find him, after herculean efforts, my only reward will be the bitter taste of truth.”

“The dating scene is hell, we know,” Emelie flops onto her stomach, raking a hand through the soft down of my stomach. I trill with surprise and delight.

“I think I speak for both of us,” Ken says, watching Emelie’s face, “when I say that was fantastic and we’d love to see you again sometime.”

“Absolutely,” she says, without a moment’s hesitation.

I grin, warmth spreading through my chest. “I am God and I wish to die.”