Check Out “Innocent Bird” in Lightspeed

I’m really excited to be in Lightspeed again with my new short story, “Innocent Bird!”

It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen.

She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in.

I wrote the first draft of this story as part of the Codex message board contest Weekend Warrior. The prompt was to “Write a story inspired by your favorite video game. Stay away from anything copyrighted, but use the sounds, activities, or setting for inspiration.”

At the time, I was playing a rhythm game based on a Japanese anime, Love Live, about girls in a musical performance club. 

During rough times in my life, I’ve often found myself inclined to media about friendships. Love Live is a very gentle universe where conflicts are low stakes and kindness wins out. 

My story isn’t like that–but I loosely used it as a point of departure for creating a contemporary fantasy world. I’ve written a couple of other stories in this setting, about the girls coming to terms with magical abilities as part of their adolescence. I’m not sure how they all fit together as a whole yet. I greatly admire Isabel Yap’s “Hurricane Heels” which is a multi-part novella, written in a literary style but following the characters in an imaginary magical girl anime. I want to avoid putting together something that’s too close to hers in structure, but it’s definitely an inspiration for me when I’m thinking about how to put the two conflicting genres in tension–and harmony–with each other.

I also went to another of my common inspirations for this story–reversing a common storytelling element. In this case, I wondered about reversing the themes that resonate in selkie stories.

I hope you enjoy this story! I talk about it more in my spotlight over at Lightspeed. My many thanks to Akemi Marshall for her advice and expertise. 

At first, there were not so many feathers, but soon there were more and more. She’d assumed they’d be white; in drawings, most people with wings had feathers like swans or doves. Hers were like a sparrow’s: tones of warm brown like her skin in summer, speckled with olive-black like her hair and eyes.

Day by day, Shoko’s feeling of incipience rose. She wanted to kiss Ichika. She wanted to hold her close. Love fluttered inside her as her wings soon would in the air.

She was desperate to stop it.

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