She woke up sticky with tears, with matted hair and lines on her face and neck from the carpet. She stood up slow and waited for her senses to catch up with her. For a moment they remained on the floor, and only groggily did they rise into her eyes and ears.
She had stopped crying sometime in the night, and wondered vaguely whether she would start again when she woke up more. She felt like her insides were still asleep. She shook herself and stretched. She stared at the walls and through them, into the field. It was just about dawn outside, and the sun cut across the grass. She stared out the window until she lost track of time.
It was a beautiful morning, and that was something she hadn’t really expected to see.
She had started to cry again without realizing it was happening, but it was a different kind of cry. Tears just rolled down her face, and her eyes itched a little. There was no sniffling and no sobbing. So she wiped her face off and pressed play on the stereo. She listened to her grandpa read to her and let the tears come if they would. They did, but it was alright.
“Good night, noises everywhere,” her grandfather said. The recording stopped. She listened again, and then once more.
Good night, noises everywhere.
It was morning in the hotel.
She pulled open the safe near her bed. Inside were stacks and stacks and stacks of notebooks. She took all of them out, carefully, placed the CD from the stereo inside, and shut the safe. She laid the books out all around her on the floor, fanned them out, pointed them in all directions toward the walls and window, picked one at random, and started reading.
She read and read. Every one of them. And she learned a lot of things, sitting there.
She read past the things that didn’t make sense to the things that did, and then went back again and turned the harder parts over and over on her tongue. She tried hard to keep in mind that Nina in her less lucid moments still knew more than her, and had things to teach her. Sam. Nina. Whoever. So she read everything, and took from the books as much as she could carry.
She would be here forever, and she had a lot of things to learn about. Hours passed and she hardly noticed, except for the setting sun yellowing the field and the trees out her window.
A throat cleared behind her, and she turned too quickly to meet the noise. She knocked the book to the ground in her haste and scrambled to pick it up. The throat and the body that held it waited patiently for her to stand back up and face it.
It was the large, scarred man. The bird man. He was standing closer to her than she had thought. He sounded very far away. When he spoke, he rumbled. He had the deepest voice Izzy had ever heard. He spoke slow, like how he moved. Limping, wavering.
“Do you know that when it rains here, when it rains, sometimes it rains from the trees? Do you know that?” he asked.
“Who are you?”
He crossed what remained of the room in a step and looked down very far at her.
“The rain from the trees come from the branches. The branches are very high, so that when it rains it takes a long time to come down. But sometimes it rains from the trees here. I saw you looking out the window, and I thought that I would tell you.”
“Were you watching me?” Izzy asked.
“Hello, small girl,” he said. “I was watching you read. I’m sorry.”
“Do you know where you are?” he asked. He looked at the book in her hand.
“Did the book tell you?”
Yes again. She nodded. He nodded with her, exaggerated.
“You’re one of her’s.”
She gripped the book a little tighter. “I saw you yesterday, too. You were outside and in my room,” she said. He nodded again. Long nods. Ten up and down, up and down. Nod nod nod.
“I shook your hand,” he said. He mimed the motion. Up and down and up and down. “But I didn’t talk to you then, because it told me to let you sleep for a night before I did.”
“The one who brought you here. He said he would hurt me if I didn’t listen. That he would swallow me up. But he told me to go and talk to you today, now that you’ve slept.” Nod nod nod.
“Oh,” he said.
Her eyes moved to the stiff and feathered shape attached to him.
“Why is there a bird on your shoulder?” she asked.
“Ask him,” he said.
She started to, before he stopped her.
“This bird is stuffed. He can’t talk.”
“Oh,” she said.
Izzy carefully stepped around the man and sat down on her bed. He pivoted, following her. He sat where he stood, on the floor. His head reached her neck despite the elevation.
“What are you supposed to tell me?” she asked.
“I’m Sunday,” he said. “You asked that earlier and I just noticed that I never answered you. I’m Sunday.” He stopped, and mouthed the word again. “What language am I speaking?”
Izzy blinked. “English,” she said.
“The whole time?”
“Yes. What language do you usually speak?” she asked.
“I always have to check first. The last time I talked to anybody I was yaum al-ahad, and before that I was Domingo, and before that I was ilyoil. What’s your name?”
“I’m Izzy,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Nod nod nod. Nod nod nod. “I’ve never been Izzy,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“Are you hungry?” he asked. “It said that you would think you were.”
“No,” Izzy said. “You don’t need to eat in the hotel.”
The man put spade-sized hands into his pockets. “I have … oyster crackers and I have some apple. I’m not asking if you need food; I’m asking if you’re hungry.”
Izzy took the food from him and ate and tasted it, knowing that her body didn’t care about it. She was in the hotel. But she would be here forever, so why not eat before she forgets what it’s like?
Sunday saw what she was thinking.
“You miss your dad?” he asked.
She looked up from the little package of crackers crinkling in her hand. “I never knew my dad,” she said. “He was gone before I was born.”
Sunday blinked two or three times, very slow. “Do you miss him?”
Grandpa Jim was asleep on the chair with the television on. It made her heart hurt.
Nod nod nod. Izzy stared into the wall. “The man who brought me here isn’t a bad guy,” she said.
Sunday laughed and kept laughing. She felt it through the legs of the bed.
“It’s not a man,” Sunday said.
Izzy shrugged. She had nothing else to say. She finished her little meal and looked up at Sunday, who hadn’t stopped looking at her.
“You never answered me before,” Sunday said very seriously. “Do you know that it rains from the trees here?”
The door was open now. Izzy didn’t even care where she ended up.
“I didn’t,” she said. “I’d like to find out.”
Sunday smiled a big, big smile.