Columns of sun break through the breeze, warming her back as she flaps against the wind—soaring, swooping, gliding, turning, whistling, racing—flying to advance through that next open stretch, that shadowy gap in the trees, that dive to the grass and launch back over the wild fingers of the thicket, straight into the corridor of light, an extra beat in the wings to get through the glare, head down into an eruptive chirp—the precipitous pop—before dropping in silence to the ground.
She never saw the window. Never knew what a window was before she woke in the cold belly of a shovel.
“Oh, shit! It’s still alive!”
“Put it down. Or throw it in the air.”
“Those are opposite things!”
“I don’t know. Did it really move?”
“It’s moving again!” The shovel clangs to the ground, the bird—she knows herself to be the bird—knocks onto the rocks.
As she presses her wing against the shifting ground, she feels the roundness of her chest and the air against her back. The darkness is milkier now, but it hasn’t cleared. Then she snaps open an eye.
“Whoah! You see its eye?”
“That’s so fuckin’ creepy, man. It’s giving you the One Eye!”
“That’s not a thing.”
“The fuck it’s not. And you got the shovel, so that shit’s on you.”
The air isn’t just around her, but inside her. And underneath her. She can hear it whirring between her body and her wings. Her other eye opens, and everything goes white.
“Both eyes! Bird’s checkin’ shit out.”
“You were gonna bury it, and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, bitch!’”
“If this bird flies again…I’m gonna…run a marathon or go back to school or something.”
The light softens enough to see the grass beyond the rocks; her head clears enough to understand the ground is not where she belongs. If she moves her other wing and pinches the gravel beneath her toes, she might be able to lift herself up again.
“Fucker’s takin’ off! Holy shit!”
“Ha! Little wobbly. Been there. But shit, man, that bird’s back in the air.”
“So like, does the marathon training start today?”
“Fuck. Right after lunch. Gonna grab myself a sandwich first. Sort some shit out.”
The heat on her back is coming from the light, but where is the light coming from? She knows how to fly, but how? She can turn and dip and rise and glide if she chooses. But what if she chooses to dive into the water or fly into the sun? Or stop flapping her wings all together and sink as she’s doing now? Itching to root out answers. Only there’s an urge to ignite her wings again. Hover over the grass and stab her beak into the cool soil. Rise once more with a meaty grub from the gut of the earth.