Excerpt from Babybirds

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***

One of these bleak yet potent cracks in his usually peaceful, waking world one day appeared in his sleep. It happened in a dream, a nightmare really, and Bernard could not handle it. He had dreamed of a bird flying in a wide blue sky, a mountain far off in the distance. The bird and the mountain would rock back and forth together, sideways too, like a boat on the water. White clouds behind and in front and the bird would swerve and swoop, happy to be alive. It was a dream Bernard had had many times before, the flight of the bird. The freedom that it engendered in him, after he awoke, often would make him go quickly to see his father, even awaken him, to tell him about “the bird.” But he had never dreamed of the mountain before. It was a mountain he had seen on the other side of town. He knew about this mountain. He knew where it was. He had seen it before. It was a small mountain next to what is called Sunrise Mountain in the eastern part of the Las Vegas valley, which he had seen on his way to a picnic at Lake Mead some months before. The bird and the mountain were closely aligned in the dream, the clouds pillowed the bird so the bird seemed to gather great speed and could traverse great distances with very few flaps of its wings, much like anyone would dream of flying over the landscape, a totally unreal sort of flight that empowered him and made his heart feel full. The mountain would come closer with a turn of the bird’s wings and then would recede with another turn.

He watched the flight of the bird in his dream. The bird tilted and floated directly over the mountain until, suddenly, it stopped. There was no more fluid movement. The clouds froze, and far below was the top of the mountain, which slowly began to rise higher and higher and higher because the bird had gone into a free fall. Bernard kicked at his blankets and tried to make the bird flap its wings, but it would not. It would only fall as the mountain rose and rose and rose and Bernard’s heart beat faster and faster until it sped up, everything, like lightning, and the bird was falling past his eyes and down and the mountain rose and rose and instantly, suddenly, the bird fell through a strand of green scrub and hit the compacted dirt and rock of the mountain with a sound that sounded like a ball entering a baseball glove. The bird landed dead next to a tiny nest filled with baby birds who in unison screamed up at Bernard with a single voice so loud that Bernard opened up his eyes wide and let out a shriek of horror so intense that it could not escape his mouth, and the only sound in the room that you could hear during the height of the most horrible moment of his life was the sound of the ticking of the clock which read 3:34 in the morning.

Bernard flew out of bed and began to run around his room wildly. He then placed his hand upon his cheek and pushed himself in circles until he fell back on to the bed. His parakeets flitted around the cage and Bernard grabbed the cage and placed his face against it uttering “babybirdsbabybirdsbabybirdsbabybirds.” He wheeled around again and the thing that had him would not let him go. He shuffled crazily around the room for his pants, took off his pajama bottoms and left the top on, and put them on. He then found his Velcro strap tennis shoes and put them on without socks and went to the door and opened it wide when he suddenly stopped and decided he would not go to his father for help this time. He realized he hadn’t intended to for why would he have put on his clothes? He peaked around the corner of his door and looked down the hallway where his father’s room was. A grey light was emanating and he listened momentarily to the soft murmurings of a television set. He moved quietly in the opposite direction, unlocked the front door and slipped out into the cool early morning air and ran.

 

 

 

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Published in: on June 6, 2018 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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