Opening my window, I smoked my first cig of the morning. The cages strung between apartment blocks were filled with brightly colored, noisy birds. As a child, I’d thought them real and tried to set them free but there were no animals and those birds are robots.
When snow fell, Davy put out extra food for the birds, he felt sorry they had to search bare tree branches and frozen ground. Today, the robin came and Davy enjoyed watching him hopping about and chasing other birds away. Davy thought; it’s the simple things in life that make it all worthwhile.
The birds were flocking around the house like they had done every morning now. I stopped my delivery bike, newspaper still in hand and wondered what was going on. Walking into the back garden, clouds of birds wheeling, I saw why. There was a dead body on the lawn.
It sounded like birds were being murdered, the noise of their cries was that loud. I opened the blinds on the kitchen window which looked out onto the back garden. There on the lawn were four large crows fighting each other.
I had no idea what to make of it, other then they were fighting over food. It was too late in autumn for them to be mating. I knew nothing of birds though, nor put any food out for them. I was aware my neighbours did though, so perhaps that’s why they were attracted to my garden?
A half reminded, old poem came into my mind; one for sorrow, two for mirth or joy, three for a boy and four for a girl. Wasn’t that how it went? I couldn’t remember, it was something grandma sung. It didn’t matter.
I didn’t like the birds fighting out there and making all that noise. I went to the back door, calling my cat as I did so. He was old and lazy now but the sight of him might spook the birds into flight. I unlocked and opened the door, the cat came slowly towards me.
We stepped out almost together and the birds saw us both. Their horrible calling screeched upwards as if they were unhappy to be disturbed from their argument. One of them took flight, large black wings beating and the others quickly followed.
‘Make sure they don’t come back,’ I told the cat, ‘damn birds.’
I hobbled back inside, my knees aching and my chest heaving. It had been worth the pain to stop that racket. I settled into my arm chair, relaxing into the peace. I shut my eyes and began to drift off, exhausted all ready.
A tap tap on the window, stirred me. I didn’t want to awake but it could be important. The nurse coming to check up on me or my daughter visiting. I opened my eyes, moved my almost ninety year old body and looked towards the front window where the tapping sound was continuing.
A large crow was sat on the window sill outside, tapping it’s sharp beck against the glass.
It was too hot to do anything but Rose had to stay out of the way. She sighed and flopped down in the wild meadow that ended the decorative hedged gardens. After Rose’s morning lessons and lunch, her maid had sent her outside to ‘play’, giving her a strict warning about not coming back until supper time.
Rose looked back in the direction of home but she couldn’t even see the chimneys from here as the tall trees hide them away. Everyone at the manor house was busy preparing for the ball this evening which she wasn’t invited to being ‘just a child’.
Rose knew when she got back she would have a simple supper in her day room then her maid would put her to bed. The sounds of the musicians playing, the guests’ voices, the cars and horse drawn carriages at the front door would drift into her room and keep her up all night. She would try and sneak down as people started arriving, Rose decided. She liked to see the ladies in their huge ball gowns and the men in their black suits.
The flapping of loud wings and a large bird rising in the air, broke Rose’s line of thought. It looked like a hawk or some other bird of prey but she wasn’t sure. The bird flew over the meadow then towards the house. Rose wonder what it was like to be a bird as she dozed off.
Rose dreamed she was at the ball, wearing a dress made of bird feathers. She was dancing and drinking from the pretty wine glasses. The french doors were open, she went out, the dress transforming around her so that wings grew from her back. She took off and flew up to the starry sky and moon, the guests below gasping at her. Then she was falling, the sky seeming to move higher away and the ground rising to meet her.
Rose’s eyes snapped open and she rose up from the tall grass, looking around confused. The warm breeze on her face, the smell of flowers, the buzzing of the honey bees and singing of the birds, caused her to remember where she was. She rubbed her face, wondering what time it was.
Getting up, she walked back into the gardens and into the one where a proud bronze sun dial sat. The head garden’s boy had taught her how to tell the time from were the shadow lay. It seemed to be close enough to supper time to start walking back to the house. Still, sleepy and shook up from the dream, Rose wandered way back, thinking that maybe she wouldn’t sneak into the ball.
The egg shell lay abandoned on the grass. I wondered if the baby bird had survived. I hoped it was and safe in a nest somewhere. The likelihood was that some animal had snatched the egg and eaten it. I walked away, never knowing the answer.
The sea roared in my ears, the tide was coming back in. I lent out over the edge of the cliff, camera ready to snap whatever was down there. I took a few photos blindly then the puffins flew up into my face, defending their nests and forcing me away.
They say the birds only come to those who can control the magic. You never believed that and just thought it was bad luck that birds seemed to follow or attack you. It took that one bird on that one strange day to change your mind and now you can feel the tingling of the magic within your head.
In the woods you can just be yourself. You don’t have to answer to anyone. The trees and animals accept you for being you. Peace will come upon you in the woods as you shut your eyes and take deep breaths. The river plays a soft song for you, helping to relax your body. The breeze moves the trees carefully, carring the scent of flowers and grass to you on warm carcasses. The birds chime happily in the trees, even though they don’t play for you, they can’t resist an early evening at the height of summer. And you can let go of everything that has been holding you back. Release the stress and worries into nature. Now breath.