Short Fiction

The Birds

A blue-ish hue enveloped the bright flames as they shot out in flashes—windows shattered, smell of burnt gas and dirt lingered below the rubble. Clouds of smoke rolled forward into the sky, shading the blue, shading the sun—drawing a dark circle above our heads, our houses, our homes. Mothers held their children back and Fathers stayed at work unknowing of the events set forth upon their families. Hours of flashing lights ran through the night. Walkie talkies beeping and sputtering people’s muffled voices in scattered parts as though they were speaking in code. The yellow tape looped and circled around schorched tree lines separating the other homes.

The house next door, on the right side, was empty—a renter. But the landlady lived a few houses away and stood in front of it shaking her head. She kept mumbling to herself, “It could have been my house, it could have been mine.” Her silver hair was wrapped in curlers and covered with a red silk scarf. Her robe was clingy and long it gathered in the back, yet still hung on her as if it was one size too big. She held a half empty cocktail in one hand and an electronic cigarette in the other. Her lips wrinkled together as she inhaled and rings would flow from her mouth. When the police questioned her, she sturdied herself against their car and answered every question with ease. Her shiny lips smacked when she talked, and she laughed hoarsely when they asked her if she knew the woman next door. “No-one knew her, little darling was a recluse.” She pocketed her thin and circular porcelain vanity, “It was a renter like mine… I wonder if Nick is aware…?”

The air grew thin and some of the passer by’s decided to keep moving. But those who were in immediate direction of Ms. Shaw’s House lingered for the whole show.

“She has a cat,” old man Frank said. He could be heard above the crowd, he directed his voice in the direction of the rescue team. They stood around waiting.

“Had a cat,” I thought.

The men looked Frank’s way, but didn’t say anything. One guy nodded at him, and the rest of them turned back and waited. They were waiting for the call to come collect the body.

I stood back, behind the crowd. I held my hands inside my pockets. I like my pockets. All my pants have pockets. I don’t like feet, I don’t like other people to wear shoes which expose their feet. I stand back here and I don’t see the feet. Ms. Shaw never wore shoes. She walked her cat around the yard with no shoes. I could see her from my window. Ms. Shaw would sit on her porch and rub her feet and ankles. I watched her pull her fingers in-between her toes. It made me vomit.

I rearranged my chair and TV to face away from the window. The window from which life passes, from which I can hear and see the birds feeding. I love the birds, they sound like sweet music that can never be recorded, not made from any machine. I have seventeen bird feeders, one can never have too many feeders. It’s my hobby, the bird feeders. They take time, care and detail—As soon as I am done with the soup I clean the can and begin to make holes. I make sure each one has four stoops to perch on. I glue popsicle sticks, chop sticks, old spoons, anything with a handle to the inside of the circles, and fill it with food.  One of them looks like an actual house, made from shoe boxes. The roof opens and the food fills into a small pouch with an opening. Three maybe four birds could fit inside. I have seen them come and go in pairs, finches I think. I placed the bird house in the center of my yard, and now it looks like the birds have a soft green lawn to jump and frolic around.

When Ms. Shaw moved in, so did Mr. Bubbles, her cat.

The finches started disappearing. First the feet, then the birds.

The white of my walls started to turn gray, and the TV sounded hollow. I wanted my birds back, I didn’t want to see Ms. Shaw’s feet mashing into the ground. I wanted Mr. Bubbles gone. I felt the match book inside my pocket. I thought about the trip to the store. How long it took to drive there, and how long it took to fill the gas cans. I wore blue surgical gloves.

The men were called inside, and I knew what they would bring out. I walked away. Back inside my fishbowl home I thought to myself how nice it was. I was looking out my window, and the birds were eating. I looked at the burnt house across the street and thought, “I’m your bad neighbor.”

Short Fiction

The Conclusion

I stay small in the shadows, I don’t want you to see me this way, I don’t want to be here.

The creeping ends and begins with momma.

She was hanging in the tree, her dress was flowing and the sun made bright red, orange and purple streaks behind her head deep into the sky. She’d swung there for a long time. I sat and watched from below until they came had to take me away from the tree, had to drag me by my arms and legs. The moonlight shone on them in a single beam. I watched them from the window, pull her down. They yanked her by her foot until she swung hard and fell. I heard the cracking and saw her head turned around, something I tried to do but couldn’t. I had only seen it on TV, a head turned like that. Her feet were black and her eyes bulged more than usual. The moonlight faded.

“Get away from that winda, ya hear.” Grandma yelled, and whipped the broom upside my head. Grandma couldn’t take care of us, so this lady came to take me to a new home. I had six new homes before I was able to be alone.

The first home was OK. It was full of kids like me. Three to a room, bunkbeds and a single twin. No dressers, just a closet.

The house mother would say, “This is short-term, lil’ girl. No long stays.”

The second house was an old couple. Their house smelled like chicken soup, all the time, and they had three cats and a goat. They were nice people. Nothing weird or special, just liked to get the paychecks. The goat stayed outside in the front yard. Old Man said it was for keeping the lawn trimmed, he was too old to mow the yard. When the goat died, he got a hand push mower, and gave it me. I had fun with it, I made circles and patches all over the place. Old Man didn’t think it was so funny.

The next house was alright too.

It was the last house… it was the bad one.

It was really bad, I don’t talk about it. Don’t like to think about it, but it was the first time I killed a man. He was coming into the room, and the lock wouldn’t stop him, he reach for me and I bit him. He smacked me hard to the ground. Everything around me went black, and my ears rang. I could feel his hand pull up on my thighs. I felt the ground around me. The pen cradled itself into my fingers. I stabbed his eyes out and kicked his nose in with the ball of my heel.

House number five, I had seven brothers. Fighting them off me had it’s rewards.

I went for an evaluation, before trial. I guess they haven’t had any conclusions, because, I’m still here. I don’t know how long, but I seen the snow now a couple of times. I think about being able to go out in the snow, walk under it, open my mouth and let it hit my tongue. Feel it melt on my cheeks. I want to lay and make snow angels, feel the cold against my ears, numb out the noise.

They got into a circle around me once, and they sang to me. The lady in the white coat told me to make a wish and blew out the flame rising from a frosted single cake, wrapped in colored paper. Chocolate. My favorite. I wished for a black and shiny handled rod. The little red light is on and when it turns green, it’s ready. The cord coming from it tangles in circles and loops into knots.

I ripped apart the pretty paper around the box. Pencils in a package, all different colors. I took one from the cellophane, turned to the lady in the coat. She smiled at me and asked if I wanted to draw. I lurched the pencil forward and drove it through soft white of her eyeball. After the party they moved me into a different room. I have not eaten frosted cake since then.

Maybe that made the conclusion come, and it said that I shall remain in the white room, with the white bed, with the white sheets—stained with red dots.

I finally got a visitor; the sister I had at the last house, the bad house. She was there when I killed that man. Her dad. She watched. They took her to a hospital when they found us. The neighbor had heard the bad man screaming and called the authorities.

I asked her to come back, she did. I asked her to bring me what I had wished for. When the nurses found me I had 29 burns—under my arms, around my breasts, and inside my thighs.

I no longer lay alone. The little one-eye box sees me everyday, red blinking light. Blinking, blinking, doesn’t stop. Fixed above the barred window.
The nurse comes to give me the pills now. Now, Now, I look past her. Now I fall. I can see my escape right beyond my reach.

Can the moon shine bright in the alleyway behind the zig-zag stairs, will it shine a path for me to walk on, will it wind around the trees in the park and ask for a coat when it snows. Do the zig-zag stairs come down and let the little lady go. On the way will I pass a face that I will recognize? In the twisting of my interior course, will the wind blow, will the wind blow?