After he finished, pulling out to loose himself onto her crumpled feathers, Carl left.
“I’ll get a towel,” he’d said, before going inside.
Deb pulled her dress down, and waited, unsure of what to do. She would have left right then, but she couldn’t face that room of strangers, not like this, sore and sober and emptied. A breeze touched her damp skin, and she was aware, not of the cold, but of an absence of warmth.
He had gripped her tighter towards the end, holding her wings and rocking hard. And they were sore now, truly and deeply, in a way they’d never been, not after exercising or stretches or even at First Attachment. There was a realness to the feeling, a visceral ache she could not quite comprehend. Free now, with nothing to strain against, her wings felt different on her back, lighter, alive. It was as if, for the first time, they were truly her own. She smoothed them out and stretched her neck long.
Carl returned with a damp washcloth and daubed gently at her soiled feathers.
When Todd Rodgers took the stage, everyone stood, flapping and clapping with all of their might. It was crowded now, every seat full, with wings and limbs crushing on all sides. Deb could just see him over the tops of their heads, working his way across the low stage, reaching to touch the outstretched hands of his followers, his smile radiant and kind. He was impeccably turned out, his pressed suit exactly like the one he wore on TV, his hair perfectly coiffed. By now, Deb had gotten past her initial expectations. She’d come to see his awkward boniness as regal, and no longer noticed the effects of Redistribution. His tiny waist and overdeveloped chest gave him an air of authority, and he strutted with obvious charisma. On the other side of the auditorium, someone let out a cheer and Todd Rodgers extended his wings.