Literature for your lunch break! Get a new story every day, delivered straight to your device, free.
app store app store

The Spring Rain

.

The sun is out. It's a beautiful spring morning for many, but for me it's the start of another day to fill with busyness.

I pull my uncombed hair into a tight ponytail, roll my jeans up, and start taking out the lawnmower, cans of lawn chemicals, and tools from the garage to hose winter's salt and remnants off its floor.

The smell of water on dust, like the rain's smell, is soothing.

I move on to the porch and am about to press the hose handle when I see her: a baby bird, still and tiny, lying in a pool of blood in the corner. Some gray feathers are strewn around her. Her never-opened, bulgy eyes are shut.

I look above at the swallow nest in the nook of the ceiling. It's quiet.

Yesterday, I'd heard tiny chirps while weeding in the front yard. No sound like a new life's.

My body had lost a sound last week, only two days after I'd heard it, strong and rhythmic, under the stethoscope. My body had endured shots of vitamin-D—thanks to Ohio's scarce sun—for months, and a year-long hormone therapy for that heartbeat.

My gaze is stuck on the featherless, ginger pink body. The silent yellow beak. The lines of claws.

I want to protect her, stand guard against buzzards, but what if the mother is watching from somewhere, waiting for me to leave? With that thought, I step inside and sit by the window, eyes fixed on her. I don't even take a bathroom break.

It's noon. Still, no mother or visitor.

The early May sun is gaining strength, casting heat on the bare body. I should do something, but how do I know how to handle someone else's baby?

I had let my own child slip out, whirl, and drown in a pool of blood in front of my eyes.

My legs carry me out to the yard; my hands grab a trowel and dig a shallow hole between the patch of tulips and the rosebush. Both are budding. My left hand scoops the baby bird up into my right hand which lays her down.

This right hand had flushed the toilet that night, like an automaton.

After covering her with mud, I poke an orange-black metal butterfly, mounted on a thin metal post, into the earth.

There's no marker for my baby.

The bloodstain on the porch is still there like an an open wound. I look away and get busy with edging the flower beds.

Soon, gray, rumbling, clouds push out the sun. I quickly restore the garage's contents and walk towards the front door, but my feet pause in the porch: the brown stain is being erased by the spring rain.

The rains, which I hold inside, start.

First appeared in Soft Cartel, August 2018
menu