by Ekaterina Sedia
Obtain aged vinegar, put it in a bottle with a stopper made of amber or of desert glass; do not taste the vinegar for it will be bitter and infectious with misery.
Obtain a swallow and pour vinegar in its eyes; pay no mind to the plaintive cries of the squirming bird—you have a purpose before you.
Remove the eyes—and this is just a mild way of putting it, making it sound as if the eyes would just pop out of the skull, clean as grapes—no, you must wrench them out of the bird’s head, pry loose with your fingers, ignore the cries. The bird doesn’t know.
Release the swallow and watch it: its flight will be fluttering and panicked, jagged, raw, bloody. With no sense of direction, it will plummet toward the earth and then overcompensate and head for the sun, despite the wet woolly embrace of the clouds and the growing heat, its empty eyesockets smoldering in its ruined head—this is the swallow’s last flight and it will not be long.
You must then take the bird’s eye to the one afflicted and put the bloodied black marbles, tiny as currants, onto the blind person’s eyelids. You must press them on and make the person drink the bitter vinegar, pink with the bird’s blood, drink it all to the last drop. Their lips will pucker at the taste and their eyelids will flutter, waking.
And you will stand there, wondering about the bird.