Two doves landed on my windowsill. I could hear them cooing. When I got up and opened my window, they did not fly away. Instead I reached for them and cupped them gently in my hands. One dove nestled in each palm soft and downy. I held them tight, and I could feel them trembling.
“What are you doing here?” I asked. But they did not answer. They gave their deep throaty call. How calm they were and yet I could feel the intake of their breath and the racing of their hearts. I had never felt something so soft and so white.
Again I asked, “Why are you here? Who sent you?” The weight of them in my hands, I cupped them to my breast. How warm they felt pressed against me.
“Mum would not like it if she knew you were here?” I told them. But still I did not let them go nor did they struggle against my grip. I stroked the white feathers and listened to their murmuring. I wondered if the Good God had sent them to me. A dove is for peace. And I felt the ease of slumber fall upon me. I lay down on my bed and rested with the two soft birds sheltered against me.
I moved my fingers as light as I could over the birds. I traced a line from the crown of their head over and to the tip of their tails. To the very tip.
Was their silence and stillness from fear or pleasure? I lifted one to my face. My breath ruffled the white down. It looked at me with one dark eye that blinked then turned away.
I pressed my lips to the dove and kissed it. Surely the Good God had sent me this. Surely this is what he wanted for me. Peace and joy. Peace and joy to all men. My heart sung hymns of praise to him for what he had given me. How great the Good God is. I said the words over and over in my mind. How different from the gifts of the Devil. The Good God had sent me love and I thanked him for it.
Two doves nested upon my chest, they preened and sang to me. The Good God had sent them. I was filled with a holy delight. Estella had sent them to me. Happiness and joy and love. They were softer and sweeter than anything I had ever touched. So gentle. And that gentleness filled me. I was no longer a great clumsy fool. No longer an object of scorn and derision. No longer witch blood. It was as if the warmth of Estella’s love, the Good God’s love had melted it all away. It was as if the heat of love had burned away all that was worthless within me. I sang songs of praise, and the doves sang with me.
“Estella,” I whispered. The word was a prayer. “Estella.”
And she heard me. The Good God smiled upon me, upon us. I stroked the birds on the neck as they lay in my hands. Little circles with my thumb. Round and round.
If this moment could be forever, I pleaded with the Good God. I pleaded with Estella. But the Good God shook his head, and Estella looked sad.
“No moment can be forever.” And like wine dripping from a spilled glass, like the sun falling below the hills, like a wave washing against the shore and then falling back, this moment ebbed away, all the more beautiful for the pain of ending.
It was as if I awakened from a dream or perhaps as if I once more returned to sleep. The two doves shifted and strutted. I turned to watch them as they preened and kissed each other. I reached for them once more, one last time. They did not resist my touch and I held them for brief seconds as I carried them back to the window.
I set them on the ledge, and they looked at me one last time. There was a fluttering and beating of wings and a flurry of whiteness and spirit. They had gone. I sang one last song of praise. “Estella.” And then I turned to clean up the white feathers scattered over my bed.