Mystery & Manipulation: “Again”

In “Again,” sophomore Zlatan Ibrahimovic offers us a short but profoundly complex plotline, rich with irony and a carefully crafted first person narration. The latter is most central to Ibrahimovic’s story, especially since the narrator himself undergoes an unexpected transformation.  See how manipulation and identity are thematically portrayed in “Again.”

Again

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The bird was back. This was maybe the fourth or fifth time I saw it outside my window. Most people have trouble differentiating birds of the same species from one another, but this one was unique; there was just something about it. It wasn’t mocking me, no, but it was almost… watching- waiting for me to do something wrong. Did it know what I was about to do? I felt myself begin to sweat more. It was at this moment that I almost chuckled at myself. It was a bird. Not even a crow or one of those dark omen birds! Simply sitting outside the window, it wasn’t bothering me nor did it have any malicious intentions of tattling or even squawking at an inconvenient time. It probably just liked perching itself near my window.

I turned around away from it, only to hear a piercing shriek behind me. I flinched and turned, looking for a woman or small child, but all I saw was the bird again. No way did that bird make that fucking sound. I stared it down, tried mirroring its intimidating techniques. Sweating again. It could see right through me. I calmed myself once more. It is a bird Dave… What is the mater with you?  I looked up at the bird as I walked across the empty office to the desk that could only have been ordered purposefully with penis envy, and the bird knew it too.

Its eyes were following me again as I walked about the room, looking for what I needed. The first few times it did that, I tried scaring it away, but it didn’t move; by this point in our relationship I just ignored it and the chills it gave me.

Finally, I thought, a locked drawer. No one locks things they aren’t trying to hide. I froze. I took a moment to think about my thoughts. Was that me? I definitely remember thinking ‘finally, a locked drawer,’ and although I agreed with the ‘No one locks things they aren’t trying to hide’ thought, I was unsure if it was my own. I tried to remember what the inner monologue in my head sounds like, its voice and intonations, and tried comparing it to the thought that seemed foreign. Such attention to detail was never my strong suit.

After a few seconds I shook off such an insane notion. Thoughts in my head that aren’t mine? Please. And it made sense… it was just… being so used to my own thoughts… I would certainly feel the presence of another if one existed. And I knew. I looked at the bird. It looked at me still, deeper. I quickly ignored all of my crazy, stress induced, irrational fears and frantically searched for a key before she returned. Come on where did she put it-that stupid bitch!

Definitely not mine. I looked to the bird again. I shouted at it at the lowest volume I could, as not to alert her secretary, “I know its you! I don’t know how you’re doing this but I don’t care, and as soon as I’m done here, I swear to God I will shoot you.” The bird just stared. I wondered for a moment, what it was like to be him. All he had to do was look at me, and it tore me apart. I was envious of that. If I had that talent, I certainly wouldn’t be in this office. That was when things took a turn.

Don’t be nervous. The thought was in my own voice but was not my own. “I don’t know how your doing this, you little shit, but I-” Shhh. I was silent. Look at me. I looked, again. I focused on his eyes. I could even see my reflection in them. Staring at myself, I took a second to reevaluate what I was doing. I’m trying to ruin this woman’s life for a petty rivalry because my ego was too big to lose. I’m having what is probably a made up conversation with a bird. Looking at me through that bird’s eyes, I felt nothing but pity and disgust. And then, I saw myself moving. Out of the room. I squawked. No longer looking at a reflection, I panicked to see who I had become and who I was looking at. After looking up and down my new body in a panic to see if all this was real, I glanced up to see Dave smirk at me as he left the room and shut the lights off. I heard a loud crack, and everything went dark.

“Wow, not a bad shot.”

“No way he’ll shit on my car again.”


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