She first sees the bird as shadow against shimmer, black against shifting colour, stretching its wings. It makes her think of Liszt in his topcoat and tails, arms raised before the cymbal crash.
It watches her, and in the pinprick light of its avian eye she recognizes transition. She saw the same in Frédéric’s when they said goodbye—“and take that disgusting cigar with you, Aurore,” he had said, to hide emotion—as the skeletal hand that had entranced the world reached feebly for the water glass, or possibly the grave. The cold Paris night was kissed with colour as she stepped outside, a new story dancing at the edges of her mind.