dead bird, no. 11
(Being an attempt to write short fiction in even shorter increments…)
This is what the dead bird told me: it told me that Monica started the fire. There was no mistaking this. We’d seen dead birds all around the house, both of us, the summer the plant closed. It was not possible to go ten feet in the woods that August without seeing them. We’d read them, Monica and I, and saw rich narratives unfold across the gruesome mess. As it happened, Monica moved three blocks from where I’d first come across the bird.
Before that, we’d ridden the train out of the city, to the town in which our mother grew up. The weather was nothing: no rain or particular sun, a muted blue sky. Neither Monica nor I knew the town well. We walked from the train station, through the town center, towards a park I’d seen on the map. Monica bought a beer, which she drank from a paper bag.
On top of the hill, when we were sure we were out of view of the parking lot, we opened the box. Some of our mother’s ashes whipped from us, but there was little wind, and most fell at our feet in a dismal, chalky pile. I thought of the fine black powder our living room had become, the dust Monica had wished to join, unaware that our mother was looking through boxes of knick-knacks in the attic.
Walking back to the station, Monica dropped the bag and empty bottle on the ground. I looked at her. “What?” she said, “We can dump Mom here but not a fucking beer bottle?” But it wasn’t that. I wanted to burn the beer bottle, melt it down. I wanted to keep burning the house, making sure every last part was disintegrated. I wanted to burn the ashes more, making them smaller and finer and smaller still. I wanted to burn all the dead birds in the world. [/END]