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Feather, A Tale in Three Parts

I. Beauty

The crow fluffed her feathers before the bathroom mirror. The new highlights were quite fetching, she thought. He was sure to notice her now. She launched herself from the sink and out the door, heedless of the one striped feather spiraling down to the floor.

II. Fashion

The little green-eyed creature eyed the mirror uncertainly. Why would humans wish to look at themselves in such a way? Perhaps because they wore such complicated amounts and arrangements of clothing. It wriggled its ears, all three of them, in a way that indicated confused resignation, then tried again to get the garments arranged correctly. Why they couldn’t practice before landing! This bit pinched, that one tickled, and it had no idea where this one would go, being intended for a part of the anatomy that it was entirely lacking. But it was important to blend in with the locals, so on it went. The final bit was a headcovering that just missed covering its eyes completely. The green-eyed creature pushed it back at a jaunty angle. No, no. That was entirely too much. It pulled the feather out of the hatband in two multijointed twiglike fingers and dropped it on the floor. Now it was ready to meet this new species on their own terms.

III. Science

It looked like a Northern Mockingbird feather, Mimus polyglottos, but only DNA testing could provide 99.9% certainty. He pulled his ever-present field kit from his pocket and removed forceps and a small polyethylene bag. Lifting the feather carefully with the forceps, he examined it closely before sealing it in the bag and jotting down a label.

Faint traces of blood, dried. The bird may have been hit by an automobile. Birds of this size tend to explode in a cloud of feathers when hit by a moving vehicle. It may be possible-

“James Alexander Drogan, just what do you think you are doing in here?” Jimmy jumped as his mother grabbed him by the ear, nearly dropping his forceps. He stuffed them and the feather into his pocket.

“But Mom,” he began.

“You know you don’t belong in the ladies’ room. Get out.”

Jimmy patted his pocket proudly. Scientists had been persecuted throughout history, and he’d gotten the sample all the same.

My local writer’s group often has a writing challenge for the monthly social. I proposed the latest one: a short explanation for the black and white feather on the floor in the women’s bathroom at the previous social, to be read to the group tonight. It was my challenge, and I ended up writing three separate stories. I only read the first to the group.


  1. Eric says:

    I don’t have any specific comment, this is just me pressing the “like” button on all three of these, especially the last.

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks, Eric. The third one is my favorite too, though the last line still isn’t right (even in the umpteenth iteration that appears here).