Uncommon love

Lute liked Azure. His family arrived in the village as Lute was 7, and he was exactly her age, while the other nestlings were always either much younger, or much older and independent than her. Both of them quickly started to play a lot together. They liked to watch the nature around the village, or to steal fruits from the market only for the thrill of the pursuit. She liked to run around, and to get on top of trees, where she could watch him bobbing his head around as he was struggling to follow her. He liked to sculpt, and to draw on the mud next to her when she was looking for insects. He was good at makeup, too.   Lute remembered the first time he sculpted her. She was sitting, focused on some gravels where she was carefully studying the behavior of ants trying to move a large piece of bread. She was vaguely aware of him hopping around her on one leg, using the other to hold what looked like a piece of clay. After a while, he finally poked her on the side to show her his result. "D'you like it?", he had asked. Silly question, she had thought : who couldn't love that such a kind person with beautiful black and blue feathers made such a beautiful sculpture of your face ? Apparently, most of the village is who.   As they were growing up, Lute started noticing how others were behaving strangely when they were together. They would point at them and chortle from afar, haughtily turn away, scowl at them... Although Lute didn't know what, she knew something was wrong. "It's because I'm different", Azure had said. She knew that he was different, and that wasn't the point was it? He was kind, a bit secretive, he was a great artist, and yes, he had a smaller and longer beak than them, and black and blue feathers. But that was it ! And after all, his parents were accepted in the village council, so there couldn't be an issue, could it ? Well, apparently it could.   The first time they kissed, Lute was 15. She had fled the village, crying, after someone in the market had called her a "Bobber lover". It weren't the words or their meaning that had got her, she didn't see the trouble in liking Azure. The tone that the vendor had used, however, that tone hurt. It was so full of contempt, of disgust, she couldn't stand it. When Azure found her, she was standing on top of a branch. He had brought a handkerchief, and some pencils. Lute remembered how he spoke quietly to her, in a comforting tone. He might have been saying gibberish for what she was listening, but he was there. As he talked, he proceeded to paint her beak in the same fashion as his, with all these full and loose curves, these small symbols. His beak slowly got closer and closer, as his voice was getting lower and lower, until their feathers were touching. That day, Lute decided that she would not let the village get her down, and that she would always be on Azure's side.   A few days later, Lute's house burnt. She was not there when it happened, she was busy working at the village's doctor office. She heard the fire alarm at the same moment as everybody else, that is to say, too late. When she arrived, the house was already a fuming pile of ash and burnt sticks. A simple word had been written on the entrance, etched on the floor : SINFUL. That night, Lute covered her face and feather with complex black patterns made of ash, and slept near the house. Her mother, the only person in the village who had accepted who her daughter wanted to be with, had been killed in the fire.  

Cover image: by Pouaseuille


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