Something is going on with the birds. I’ve been standing at the window, tea going milk skinned, unable to tear my eyes from the shuddering acer, now a battleground of fluttering bodies. The fray is eerily silent of squawking. All I can hear is the shredding of tails, throats and wings. Flapping. And the hissing of leaves.
I slide the window open. Air clamps my face in its sweaty palm. I take the shallowest of breaths, just enough to feel the top of my throat constrict.
You would’ve known what to say. You were confident that phenomena could be contained through the lens of language. I still read your books and try to match up the world to the words. I’ve remade your diagrams on the wall, pencil sketches straight onto the wash clean paint, red wool looped around nails. Life is in that web, if only I can collect enough insects and seed heads.
Outside, I brave the grass. Moist blades warm as a human tongue lick the soles of my feet. Feathers are floating down. Tufts of pale grey collect amongst the Alchemilla mollis, which once cradled diamonds of rain. I miss you but mostly I miss the way things were so simple. Pastries and lollipops from the corner bakery. Leaping to keep up with your footsteps as we strode through summer fields, buttercups up to my eyeballs.
I’ve added some feathers to the web. I think that’s what you would’ve done. To be honest, I went through a phase of not caring. Tomorrow, I’ll take the collection box into the woods. I’ll get undressed and lie down amongst the mouldy leaves, which smell the way your breath did on the day you closed your eyes forever. Into my mouth, I will press some soil. I don’t think you ever tried it but I promise it tastes really, really good.
Marilyn Parr is a South African journalist currently living in Bath, UK. Her writing explores human relationships in the face of technological advancement and climate change. Her work has featured /is forthcoming in Tiny Molecules, Reflex Fiction and A Thin Slice of Anxiety and achieved second place in the Cambridge Short Story Prize 2021. Find her at www.marilynparr.com or occasionally on Twitter @Marilyn_Parr_
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