The Bird Cage


The bird cage is elegant in its prison walls. With golden skinny bars, they stand appropriately distant from one another. As if by standing too close, they might melt together, barring any freedom that might be seen from inside. It’s the freedom seen from inside that turns deadly. If cages were walls then dreams would be thoughts and thoughts alone don’t pine for distance.

They are gold because they are beautiful. Rich in their perfection, they hang balanced between space. The kind of space that feels good initially, but turns all consuming. Attractive in its attachment, they hold firm to their values.

And what kind of values does a cage begin to have? When it is born, it is soft – its metal not fully formed. Molded into straight lines of force, it becomes rigid with age. Like fancy leather couches with matching dark blue ottomans, at first you feel comfortable. The soft approachability of something quietly waiting entices and when you sink deep into the furniture, you feel its arms wrapped around you. Its only when you stand up and realize that nothing is as comfortable, that you start to feel the pain of freedom. The air stings with emptiness and soon you are left facing the cage. This time from the outside – You beg to be let back in.

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The Slip

Edited by Melissa Mayberry

The rolled up white slip slouches in between the bed and the wall. The nylon texture is so clingy, she’ll latch on to anyone. Pathetic really. She used to tell me I’d never make it to the top of the drawer by being such a lowly UNC sweatshirt, but who is the first to get used when she is in the wash? That’s right.

The woman would rather curl up in a big, fleece, bear hug than to be constrained in a miniature ball of thin material. She is strong and never clings. By working hard, she gained a full scholarship where she would continue to work until she had made it to the top of her class. Through years of studying, she graduated and landed a job at a prestigious legal office with long hours. Early in the morning she would rise from her bed and put on beige tights and a long button down that was anything but flattering. She is a strong woman, yet she yields. She yields to the unfortunate insecurity that all slips cling to.

The slip fits neatly into that unforgivable roll that makes the average person weak in the knees. The innocent, wispy white piece of lingerie that could blow away at the slightest breeze. The waif of a garment that could just as easily shatter if she were a glass vase. In essence, she is the very opposite of the woman wearing her.

Whispering, she will plead to the woman, “Don’t you know I’ve been waiting for you to come home all day.”

And she has. She smoothes herself out in that impossible way that only slinky fabric can.  After hours of dolling herself up she shapes herself into whatever size fits best. By spreading herself thin she gives the illusion that she is as big as need be. By turning her neck line in just the right way she hides the tiny holes just below the lace.  She is almost perfect in her careful manipulation.

No one will be friends with her. After pushing her way to the top of the dresser drawer, the socks won’t talk to her. She ignores this and instead yaps on incessantly about the problems she has with static electricity or the way her material is so thin and fragile.

“Come on…” she says. “Does your boyfriend really want to see you in underwear or worse, a ratty old UNC sweatshirt? You can show off all the things he never sees under that button down if you just pick me.”

The guilty feeling of being comfortable cuts the woman like a knife. In a flash, I see in her eyes the unfortunate insecurity. Perfectionism. It binds them together in a hold that is so strong, they both have little chance of escaping.

Her boyfriend would like to see her in more sexy attire and after a long day, hadn’t women always tried to appear their best?  She had made it through high school, she had a 4.0 in college, she had managed long mornings and long afternoons at the top legal office uptown, and through all of it she had been successful. Was she really going to let it all hang out now?

Before she is even aware, she takes the slip out of the drawer and throws it on over her head. With both her hands she pries at where her voluptuous hips crowd the fabric, it’s still not quite big enough to fit.  She stretches the length, trying to hide her knees which are never properly shaven, but the fabric barely reaches her thighs. Cursing another night where she has chosen something form fitting instead of luxuriously comfortable, she will fight with the slip well into the dark blue light of three a.m.

When the sun first hits the window, she will fling the slip in between the bed and the wall where she must then wait alone for laundry day. The day I sit and wait for.