Chapter 5 – January 13I

The Bird caught a glimpse of her reflection in the dark water of the pool, the waves having finally settled from Annie’s failed rescue attempt. She marveled at the ability to see herself, despite being still invisible to her friends. Most of them, anyway. Double-J seen her, spoken to her. Somehow he had crashed through the barrier that prevented her from interacting with the people from her world.

She looked down at her reflection. A toad broke the water’s surface, caught a fly, splashed down again, concentric waves emanating from its reentry. She watched her face disappear in the ripples, then form again as the water’s surface became inert once more. And what she saw surprised her.

She was smiling. Sweet and genuine. Looking only at her reflection, she reached with her right hand, brushed the thin black curtain of her hair away from her face, the better to see her smile, and watched with delight as her expression blossomed, the white of her teeth showing on the reflected surface.

The Bird had never experienced this feeling before, taking delight in her reflection. Looking into a mirror, the act hadn’t repulsed her but had always left her dissatisfied, for a reason she could not articulate. Until now. She suddenly realized that there always seemed to be something missing in her reflection, she was always looking for something that wasn’t there, would only solve the mystery of her face when she stumbled upon the secret she’d been seeking.

The mystery had vanished. Seeing herself take simple joy at the sight of the toad’s conquest, allowing herself to forget for a moment the absurdity of her situation — she saw in her reflection the face of a person who had the strength to find a solution, who needed nothing other than her native abilities. She saw, for the first time, the face of a person who had all she needed.

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