Plastic Feather

During a morning, in a very upper-class neighborhood, a rich, slightly overweight woman named Keeka wakes up in her mansion’s bedroom. She is laying on her gigantic bed. Laying next to her on the bed and still asleep is a handsome man.

Keeka gets out of her bed and goes into her bathroom. She closes the bathroom door, then looks into the bathroom mirror and says to herself: “I am a Swan. I, Keeka, am a Swan! This is not a dream. It’s real! It’s really real!”

Keeka has been having this type of morning mirror conversation with herself on a daily basis for some time now.

Some years ago, Keeka was not rich, and she did not live in this mansion or this neighborhood. She had to work for a living.

Then one day, Keeka won a lottery, thereby becoming rich. Winning that lottery changed Keeka’s life. She quit her unsatisfying job and moved out of her apartment and into the mansion that she now resides in.

Almost immediately after moving into the mansion, Keeka received a visit from four very tall, very beautiful women named Miona, Fawna, Tabeeza, and Nella. They are rich residents of the upper-class neighborhood Keeka moved into. Miona and Fawna and Nella and Tabeeza are members of an exclusive social clique known as the Swans. The Swans are very, very popular. All of the neighborhood’s other female residents want to be Swans, and all of the neighborhood’s male residents want to be with the Swans.

Upon meeting the Swans and learning about their social clique, Keeka badly wanted to be a Swan. She craved that Swan status, and all that came with it: popularity; power; access to exclusive parties; and envy and resentment from non-Swans.

Keeka asked the Swans if she could join their social clique. In response to this request, the Swans laughed cruelly, then told Keeka that she wasn’t the type of woman who would traditionally be considered for Swan membership; that Swan candidates were usually physically attractive, unlike Keeka.

Keeka couldn’t accept the rejection. She wanted to be part of this social clique so badly. She begged and begged and begged to be granted membership into the Swans.

After some deliberation, the Swans told Keeka that they would allow her to be a candidate for Swan membership.

Swan candidates were usually referred to as Ducklings. Keeka, however, was given a special designation by the Swans, for unspecified reasons: Ugly Duckling.

Unfortunately for Keeka, Swan membership candidates were required to go through a brutal hazing process to become Swans. This hazing process involved being tortured by the Swans in various ways, and having to do whatever the Swans wanted the candidate to do.

During Keeka’s hazing period, which lasted for years, the Swans subjected Keeka to all kinds of misery, including but not limited to: pouring a bucket of very cold water on Keeka; sticking used gum in Keeka’s hair; making Keeka eat a bar of soap; pouring a bucket of mud on Keeka; pelting Keeka with tomatoes; making Keeka eat a shoe; pouring a bucket of ants on Keeka; making Keeka eat nothing but peanut butter, which she is highly allergic to, for an entire year; making Keeka drink toilet water; pouring a bucket of leeches on Keeka; making Keeka wear a plastic pig nose over her real nose at all times for an entire year; making Keeka attend her high school reunion while wearing the aforementioned plastic pig nose; and pouring a bucket of tar on Keeka, then pouring a bucket of feathers on Keeka.

That last-mentioned form of torture involving tar and feathers was of particular significance to Keeka. After tarring and feathering Keeka, the Swans explained to Keeka that the feathers were swan feathers, and that the feathers were meant to symbolize that the Swans were accepting Keeka into their social clique; that she was no longer an Ugly Ducking; that she was now a Swan. It was the happiest moment of Keeka’s life.

And now, Keeka, who is still looking at herself in the bathroom mirror, says to herself again: “I, Keeka, am a Swan.”

It still seems like some kind of wonderful dream.

“But it’s real!” Keeka says. “It’s really real!”

Keeka exits the bathroom and returns to her bedroom. Her handsome male lover is still on her bed, but he is awake now.

When Keeka met Miona, Fawna, Nella, and Tabeeza, all four of them were single. Since that day, Miona, Fawna, Nella, and Tabeeza have each gotten married. All of their spouses are handsome men.

One of the Swans’ husbands is the handsome man currently laying on Keeka’s bed. His name is Sergio. He is married to Fawna. Sergio recently started visiting Keeka in her mansion on a regular basis.

“I have to meet with Fawna and the other Swans today,” Keeka says. “We’re having our weekly meeting.”

“That’s nice,” Sergio says.

“Are you sure Fawna doesn’t know we’re having an affair?” Keeka says.

“Fawna doesn’t suspect anything,” Sergio says.

“I don’t know why, but when I speak with her, I sometimes get the sense that she knows about our affair,” Keeka says.

“Fawna is completely oblivious,” Sergio says. “Right now, she thinks I’m in another country, doing one of my week-long modeling shoots.”

“I wish you never married Fawna,” Keeka says. “I wish you had chosen me over her on that night we both met you. If you had chosen me, maybe you and I would be married now, and we wouldn’t need to keep our relationship a secret. Why did you choose her over me?”

“I chose the both of you,” Sergio says. “I just chose Fawna first, that’s all. I could have just as easily chosen you first, Keeka, and gotten married to you instead of Fawna. But then I’d be having a secret affair with Fawna right now instead of you. I wouldn’t want to be doing that to you, Keeka. I respect you too much to deceive you like that.”

“But why did you choose Fawna at all?” Keeka says. “Why couldn’t you just choose me?”

“Keeka, I’m a heterosexual man,” Sergio says. “I have needs: emotional needs and carnal needs. Fawna has all the outer beauty to satisfy my carnal needs, and you have all the inner beauty to satisfy my emotional needs.”

“But I can satisfy all your carnal needs too,” Keeka says.

“Keeka, don’t be ridiculous,” Sergio says. “Fawna is one of the most beautiful women in the universe. Every part of her body is perfect. She’s so very, very hot, whereas you, Keeka, are so very, very not. If you and Fawna were food, Fawna would be a delicious, exquisite cake, and you would be a yucky, soggy stew. But while the Fawna cake looks and tastes so very, very good, it contains only empty calories. And while the Keeka stew looks and tastes so very, very, very bad, it contains many nutrients. Those nutrients are your inner beauty, Keeka. You have so much inner beauty.”

“I wish you wouldn’t say things like that,” Keeka says.

“I meant it as a complement,” Sergio says.

“It didn’t feel like a complement,” Keeka says.

“But it is a complement!” Sergio says. “It’s the greatest complement of all. You have so, so much inner beauty. You’re kind and interesting and intelligent and generous. If your inner beauty was outer beauty, you would be the most beautiful woman in the whole universe.”

Keeka is blushing now. “Oh, Sergio, that’s so sweet of you to say,” Keeka says.

She kisses him.

Later, Keeka enters Fawna and Sergio’s mansion. The Swans’ meeting is going to be taking place here today.

There will be much to discuss at this meeting. One major topic of discussion will be a woman named Sabrina.

Some time after the day that Miona, Fawna, Nella, and Tabeeza tarred and feathered Keeka and told Keeka that she was granted Swan membership, a beautiful woman named Sabrina became a candidate for Swan membership. For a brief moment in time, Keeka was looking forward to Sabrina’s candidacy period, as Keeka was eager to subject Sabrina to various brutal hazing tortures, much like what Keeka had been subjected to during her candidacy period.

However, much to Keeka’s dismay, just before the start of Sabrina’s candidacy period, Miona and Fawna and Nella and Tabeeza collectively decided to abolish the Swans’ practice of hazing candidates for Swan membership. Keeka objected to this, but she was outvoted by Miona, Nella, Tabeeza, and Fawna. So Sabrina’s candidacy period was devoid of hazing, much to Keeka’s dismay.

After a very, very short candidacy period that was much shorter than Keeka’s candidacy period, Sabrina was granted Swan membership. However, very recently, Sabrina quit the Swans. She was the very first Swan to ever voluntarily relinquish her membership. Her decision to quit was a shock to the other Swans.

Keeka is now entering the dining room of Fawna and Sergio’s mansion. On one of the dining room’s walls is a very large framed photograph of Fawna and Sergio on their wedding day at their outdoor wedding reception. In the photograph, Sergio is sitting on a chair, and Fawna is sitting on Sergio’s lap and has her arms wrapped around him and is smiling smugly at the camera, as if she is gloating about winning the marriage of the handsome man she is sitting on.

Also in the photograph, in the distant background, Keeka is hanging upside down from a tree branch that she is tied to. This photograph was taken during Keeka’s candidacy period. When that picture was taken, she was covered with a cream that has a scent that strongly attracts mosquitoes. This and the tree hanging were done by Miona, Fawna, Nella, and Tabeeza to torture Keeka and also to keep mosquitoes away from all the other people attending this outdoor wedding reception. In the photograph, Keeka is covered in mosquitoes. That was a horrible day for her.

Keeka is looking at the photograph, specifically Fawna’s smug, cruel, pretty face. Keeka would love to reveal her affair with Sergio to Fawna to hurt Fawna, but Keeka knows that she can’t do so, as doing so would also hurt Sergio and also potentially get Keeka banished from the Swans.

Keeka sits down at the dining room’s table, where Miona, Fawna, Nella, and Tabeeza are all sitting. The meeting begins. Various important topics are discussed, including but not limited to: exclusive parties that the Swans will be attending; exclusive parties that the Swans have been invited to, but will not be attending; Tabeeza’s newly-purchased, ultra-expensive mini-skirt; Nella’s newly-purchased, ultra-expensive anklet; a new sun cream that Miona uses when she is at the beach; a life-size, painstakingly accurate nude statue of Fawna that Fawna had arranged to be created for Sergio as a gift; various neighbors that the Swans have decided to shun for various reasons; and lipstick.

Now the topic of discussion is Sabrina the ex-Swan. Keeka has been eagerly awaiting this topic. She intends to use it as a platform to argue for the reinstatement of the Swans’ practice of hazing Swan membership candidates.

“I told you all Sabrina was a bad candidate for Swan membership,” Keeka says. “I told you! I’m not at all surprised that she quit our group. I knew all along that she was incapable of truly appreciating what it means to be a Swan. That would have been made clear to you all if we had hazed her during her candidacy period. She wouldn’t have been willing to endure our tortures and she would have withdrawn her candidacy. That’s why we need to bring back our hazing practice. It’s the only way we can identify candidates who truly deserve to become Swans. Like I was.”

Fawna snickers.

Keeka, continuing to speak, says: “I make a motion that we bring back our hazing practice.”

Much to Keeka’s surprise, Miona and Nella and Tabeeza and Fawna all vote in favor of Keeka’s motion. Keeka is delighted, and also deeply moved by this unexpected full support for her idea. Keeka had expected at least some resistance. Now, Keeka feels a little bad that she is having an affair with Fawna’s husband. Not bad enough to confess the affair to Fawna. But bad nonetheless.

“So it’s official,” Nella says. “Based on Keeka’s well-argued reasoning, the Swans hereby reinstate our practice of hazing Swan membership candidates.”

Excitedly, Keeka takes a notebook out of her purse. “I’m so happy that you all agree with me!” she says. “I have been so eager to get the opportunity to haze someone! I’ve even been keeping this notebook of ideas for hazing tortures we can inflict on candidates! I can’t wait to start making these ideas a reality!”

Tabeeza picks up the notebook and begins looking through it. “Wow, so many great ideas!” she says. “Who would have thought that our little Keeka was capable of imagining these acts of creative cruelty?”

“And this notebook of yours couldn’t have been introduced to us at a more perfect time, Keeka!” Nella says. “What perfect timing!”

“You mean we have a new Swan membership candidate starting with us?” Keeka says.

“Not quite,” Miona says. “We have a surprise for you, Keeka. A wonderful surprise! Do you remember that day that we informed you that you were accepted into our group?”

“Of course I remember,” Keeka says. “It was the greatest day of my life.”

“Yes, and do you remember how we revealed to you that you had become a Swan?” Miona says.

“You tarred and feathered me, as per tradition,” Keeka says.

“Actually, only the feathers are part of the tradition,” Fawna says. “Covering you with tar was just something we did because we thought it would be funny. And it was! You looked so stupid with all that tar and feathers stuck to you, Keeka!”

Miona and Fawna and Nella and Tabeeza all laugh cruelly at Keeka.

Keeka is confused. “I don’t understand…” she says. “What is happening?”

From Fawna’s ultra-expensive purse, Fawna takes out a single feather. She places the feather on the table, directly in front of Keeka.

“This is one of the many swan feathers that we covered you with on that day,” Fawna says. “I plucked this feather off of you while we were all celebrating with you. I saved the feather so that I could show it to you on this day. You didn’t examine any of the swan feathers that we covered you with, did you, Keeka? Of course you didn’t. Because you’re stupid, Keeka. So very stupid.”

Keeka picks up the swan feather and examines it.

“Yes, Keeka, it’s made of plastic,” Fawna says. “It’s not a real swan feather. None of the feathers we covered you with were real swan feathers. If we had really admitted you into the Swans that day, we would have used real swan feathers.”

Keeka is shaking. “You mean…” she says.

“Yes, it was all a joke, Keeka!” Fawna says. “You’re not a Swan! You’re still just a candidate for Swan membership! A Duckling! An Ugly Duckling!”

Miona and Nella and Tabeeza are all laughing cruelly at Keeka now.

“No, not that,” Keeka says. “Please, not that! I can’t go back to being an Ugly Duckling! Please don’t make me go back to being an Ugly Duckling! I want to stay a Swan!”

“You never were a Swan, Keeka,” Fawna says. “But if you hang in there, and continue to endure all of the misery that we inflict on you, perhaps… just perhaps… one day we may cover you with real swan feathers.”

Keeka is devastated. She sees her notebook on the table. The notebook containing hundreds of her ideas for different forms of hazing she wanted to inflict on some other Swan membership candidate. She reaches for the notebook, but Nella snatches it away before Keeka can grab it.

“We’ll make sure all of your ideas in this notebook are put to use, Keeka… on you!” Nella says.

“And I have one more surprise for you, Keeka,” Fawna says. “Sergio, come in here!”

Sergio enters the room, much to Keeka’s surprise.

“Your passionate affair with Sergio was also a joke we were playing on you,” Fawna says. “I’ve known about you and Sergio all along. I orchestrated it. I told him that I wouldn’t let him have me anymore unless he initiated a ‘secret’ affair with you and misled you into thinking he was in love with you. But Sergio isn’t really in love with you at all, Keeka!”

“It’s true, Keeka,” Sergio says. “I don’t even like you. And how could I? I’m a handsome male model and you’re just an Ugly Duckling. I love Fawna and only Fawna. I was only with you so I could be with Fawna again.” To Fawna, Sergio says pleadingly: “Is it over now? Can I stop? Please let me stop! I don’t want to endure Keeka’s fat, disgusting body anymore! Please let me stop, Fawna!”

“You may stop being with Keeka, Sergio,” Fawna says.

Sergio looks so relieved, as if a disgusting weight has been taken off him.

“Now go wait for me in our bedroom,” Fawna says. “I have a special treat to give you there. It will help you wash the horrible taste of Keeka out of your mouth.”

Sergio scampers out of the dining room, going to the bedroom to wait for his treat.

“So you see, Keeka, Sergio never loved you and you’re just a fat, disgusting Ugly Duckling,” Fawna says. “And now I want you to eat the plastic feather.”

“I hate you,” Keeka says. “I hate you all so much!”

Keeka proceeds to eat the plastic feather, which tastes terrible. The Swans are all laughing cruelly at Keeka. Keeka hopes to become a Swan soon.