It’s still very early in the morning when I wake up to go to the gas station. With some grunts I get up to get dressed. I try to move but something’s laying on me. Well, partly. I push against the weight but there’s no movement whatsoever. I curse already and then I hold my breath.
Fuck, it’s Thord.
How could I even forget about the frigging bird man. He is heavier than he looks and it must be because of those damned wings. A whole wing is thrown over me and I have to basically crawl out of this second ‘blanket’. I grumble while doing so because I don’t want to wake him. I’m not ready for this awkward morning.
When I’m in my kitchen, making breakfast, I wonder how I even ended up like this. Me, Bjørn, a simple gas station owner living his quiet (I try to strive toward this) life in the mountains of Norway who’s suddenly stuck with a man bird- a bird man, a winged man. Whatever.
Point is, said bird man, -let’s call him Thord since that’s what he calls himself- is now sharing the bed with me. And he’s still sleeping there as we speak. How did I even agree on that?
“You let a fucking man sized bird sleep in your bed. If people discover this, you’ll be dubbed as crazy.” Then I smirk as I add in my head: a cute man sized bird.
The coffee is poured and toast is made. I settle down in my chair and take a quick sip. While reading the weather reports for today, I notice movement in the corner of my eye.
“Morning,” I mutter.
“Good morning, Bjørn.” Thord sits next to me and readjusts his wings a little so they comfortably fall behind the back of the chair. Only now do I remark how extra fluffy the feathers look. I wonder if it’s similar to Thord’s funny bed hair.
“You should comb that,” I joke.
“We don’t have to. It will fall back in place,” Thord reassures in all seriousness but still runs his fingers through his tousled hair. That makes me smile somehow.
“Do you have a big pool of water here by any chance?” Thord suddenly asks me.
“Water. Could I use your sink to wash?”
“I have a shower for that,” I laugh. Is he kidding with me? “I thought you knew more about humans.”
“Told you I barely come down my mountain. I’ve actually never been in a human house like this before. So can I use your shower?”
“Yeah. After work. I think it’s better if I can keep an eye on you. Don’t want to come back to a total mess and a broken shower head or something.”
“Great! Can I come with you to work?” Thord asks excited. I roll my eyes and am about to turn down his question for the third time already. Really, he’s living with me for three days already?
Thord seems a bit nervous when we drive to my work.
“Relax. This car ain’t going to kill you,” I try to lighten the mood. Of course, I don’t tell him about the treacherous roads, especially now that we’re in the winter. But I guess Thord knows about the strange weather here as well. After all, he lives here almost as long as me, just a little bit higher into the mountains.
I found a big cloak deep in my closet which now covers Thord’s feathers big time. It’s better to not raise any suspicion around here.
“Just don’t do weird things, okay?” I say before we step inside to check in. Thord nods in agreement.
Luckily for me and Thord there aren’t many customers around today. When my shift’s done in the afternoon I talk with my co-worker. While we’re having a conversation he throws curious looks at Thord every now and then. It irritates me.
“We were talking,” I interrupt his staring.
“Oh, yes. I see you tomorrow around the same time then, boss,” the man says. I nod, pat him on the back and want to walk to the exit.
“Who’s that by the way?”
“An, eh… old friend of mine,” I lie and quickly walk back to the bird man. He’s holding a chocolate bar in his hands and I’m glad he hasn’t opened it yet.
“We got that at my home too. Come, let’s go.” And without further complaining I drag Thord out of the station.
“Can I use the shower now?” We haven’t stepped into the living room yet or Thord’s already asking me. I laugh out loud. “You don’t smell that bad.”
“But I need to wash my wings every once in a while to keep them in good condition. And they’re already beat up.”
I shrug my shoulders and decide not to get into an argue with him. I mean, what do I know about birds or people with bird-like wings? Nothing.
“Alright then. Any specific things you need for your bath then?”
“A normal temperature for the water and a warm room afterwards is enough. No soap whatsoever’s needed,” Thord says with a smile. He already leads himself towards my bathroom. It’s not big but we both fit inside. In a simple minute I show my new house mate how the shower works.
Thord has his arms crossed and watches carefully, checking the temperature of the water.
“Now we’re set I guess, see you over an hour then!”
“Wait! Could you-, could you help me?” My face must’ve turned into a tomato.
“Excuse me?! You are-, we are both grown men!” I exclaim.
“You trust a stranger, unfamiliar with this in your bathroom alone?” Thord cocks an eyebrow and I roll my eyes. That little shit’s using my own words against me.
Also fuck those pretty eyes. And thus I decide to stay in the bathroom while this oddball casually undresses himself like it’s no big deal. Now I have to thank his wings that cover up the delicate parts. The bathtub is only dimly filled. Thord hands me the shower head and I have to resist the unwanted urge to look any lower than his chest. Luckily Thord turns around and shows me his back.
“Just be careful. The feathers shouldn’t become completely soaked.”
And so I sit on the brim of my bathtub with the sleeves of my pants and shirt rolled up, showering this stray man on a winter afternoon. Thord gives me some instructions on where to target the water.
After some time we both get used to it. I have to admit it’s pretty relaxing to do this. I even start humming an old tune. Thord’s feathers become fluffed up as he stretches his wings as much as the bathtub allows him. He makes some noises that I only label as confident, amused noises. He seems to enjoy it as well. Good.
Once we’re done, I step out of the tub and hand Thord a towel.
“You can leave if you want to,” he laughs when he sees my embarrassed face.
Quickly I leave and a few minutes later the bird man walks out of the bathroom with solely the towel around his waist.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
“Yes. I hope my wings will dry quick though.” Thord looks concerned over his shoulder. I gesture him to come closer so I can inspect as well. The feathers look indeed still very damp.
“I’ve got an idea that might help.” I walk back into the bathroom and Thord obediently follows. Inside, I show him a hairdryer. I hope the device still works because I never needed it in the first place. A silly gift from my sister once.
I turn the thing on. “You okay if I blow your wings dry with this?”
“We can try,” Thord nods. He sits on the edge of the tub and take out a crutch and sit next to him.
“If it’s too hot, tell me to stop.”
“Alright. Oy, that tickles!”
It takes a few minutes before the wings are completely dry. I sigh relieved.
“Looks like you’re ready to go again,” I smirk. For the final time I let my hand run through some of the thick feathers. It feels nice and Thord doesn’t seem to mind.
“I just have to wait until my wings are fully healed before I can fly again.”
“How long would that take?”
“Not too long. Maybe two weeks.”
Suddenly the fact hits me that once Thord’s body has fully recovered from his fall down the mountain, he probably leaves again. That thought kind of saddens me so I push it aside.
“How often do you have to bathe?” I change the subject.
“Twice a week? In summer I wash my wings more often, though, but now with the cold weather it’s less convenient and safe for me.”
“You’ve got a hairdryer to take care of that now,” I quickly reply, almost too eager.
Thord chuckles and adds: “And I’ve got you.”