I Once Was a Blanket by Parth Shah

When the rakshasa moved into the bungalow, he decided this would be his peacock room. He filled the space with emerald and sapphire. Feather bouquets in obsidian urns by the glass doors.

The rakshasa was a vegetarian so no taxidermied kin. Instead, images of us on all the walls. Opposite me a painting – peacocks flexing by a courtyard fountain.

My neck is in perpetual strain, staring at the frame, yearning. I live on a crease.

My tapestry is a sandalwood color, embroidered with marigolds and me, the peahen. The sole peahen. In the summer, when the window is open, the pins will fall and my tapestry will fly, crossing into the courtyard painting, landing on the cold marble tile by the fountain.

Eeyow eeyoi – the other birds flee. The gardener will take the tapestry. She will bite into a fig and I will catch the stray nectar in my fabric mouth. Our old name will never be heard again. The gardener will not call us by a name but will take us to bed with her lover and introduce us to the company of quilts and cats. The midwife will wrap the newborn in our cloth and I will drink the placental blood and fuse with this family. When my plumage pales and the baby begins boyhood, the rakshasa will arrive uninvited and curse the child with a dance. The boy’s skin will molt – under the cover of his cries, the rakshasa will steal us away, back to the bungalow.

Beyond the peacock room.

Into the kitchen drawer devoted to dishrags.


Parth Shah lives in North Carolina, his home state, a place he never planned on returning to. His fiction previously published in hex appears in the Best Microfiction 2023 anthology.