Monday, March 11, 2013

Watching the Sky - a short story by Judith A. Sears

It was a robin, probably a female, because her breast was speckled and not orange.  I’m not sure what happened to her.  I found her fluttering on the pavement in front of my house. 

 Now when I was a child, I would have scooped her up and taken her home.  I would have tried to nurse her back to health, fixed a broken wing, saved her life, somehow.  I’m practical, I guess, and certainly no bird rescuer.  But the “little kid” that still lingers inside me wanted to console her because that would comfort me. 

I know (like adults know these things) that the poor bird was doomed and not something I should be handling.  It was hard to watch and do nothing. 
 Spring is long gone, so there are no baby birds waiting in a nest for her to return.  I don’t think robins mate for life, so there was no special someone to worry or search for his wounded love.  There was no one but me there.

Standing vigil, I was anxious about the feral cats that prowl my neighborhood.  But we were alone.  No cats, no birds, not even any other people showed up for the longest while.  And when someone finally did approach I scrambled back into my house and watched out the window.  Kids.  They just walked by and didn’t even notice her lying there, quiet now.  I was sure she was dead.

 I watched for a moment to be sure, she lay on her side, still.  I went to get a paper towel to clean up the pavement.    All the while I realize I am harboring a hope that she will not be there when I get back.  

I could easily let myself believe that she had recovered and flown away, never that a dog or cat took off with her.  But no, she was still there and still dead.  I had to steal myself, feeling the cold bony body through the paper towel.  I stood there holding her for a moment thinking about the alternatives, bury her like the child in me felt was only right or put her in the dumpster with the refuse.  
So, of course, I took my little garden spade and dug a hole in the back yard.  There I laid her to rest with a silent eulogy.

This morning when I was taking my morning walk I noticed that the grave was open and her body was gone.  The adult in me eyed every dog I met with suspicion.  The child in me, forever believing in resurrection, is watching the sky.

 ©9/2012 Judith A. Sears

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