October 18, 2010

Fiction 1: Night Bird

It was a crisp clear night above the city. A bird swooped up and down, gliding down towards the ground, but then ascending again, high above the buildings. It circled, long, wide, graceful circles high above the brightly lit avenue and then again, descended. It never dipped lower than the the highest tree. It never stopped to perch at the normal bird perching spots. It never flew close enough to a car or a person for them to recognize it. In fact, it did not fly like other birds at all, normal birds. The blue bird, although in the night it looked black, ascended again in un-birdly like fashion and flew into a dark shadow created by the building behind it. Here it was dark. Here the bird could go unseen. Here the bird landed, a spot it knew well, and waited.
The air was still and the street below was wide, bright and relatively quiet. Cars followed the elegantly curved street and then disappeared behind him, the bird. In front of him was the church steeple with its copper gone green dome, watching too, watching just as he was watching. It too knew, if church steeples could know what birds know.
Tonight was the same as That Night, That Day, he, the bird, thought. He had already scanned the whole area, for hours after it became dark, and he found nothing. Nothing appeared different than it always did. But he could feel it in the air, something felt the same as That Night. But of course, it would never be That Night again, only the feeling, the memory of that feeling, could we ever have twice.
He had never thought much of birds before, before That Night. He had not thought much of this boulevard. He had been too busy, he had been too full of thought. He had walked the sidewalks and driven his car along here many times, but he had never stopped to appreciate it or even take much notice. Now he was above it, watching the streets, the buildings, the passing cars, the occasional person with great focus and observation. He waited and he watched. Something different was in the air, he knew it. Something would happen, something would be different tonight. 
He was not sure what he expected to be different. But it was exactly as it had been That Night, it felt the same. He had waited and watched all times of the day and night, sunset, sunrise, dusk, dawn, midnight, noon and all the times in between. But nothing. He had waited and watched all times of the year, in the hot, humid summers, in the blustery autumns, in the cold, snowy winters and in the wet, fresh spring times. But nothing. He had waited and watched during all kinds of events, he saw weddings, parades, traffic accidents, kids playing, arguments and emptiness. But nothing. He had frantic hope in those early days. But as the times, seasons and events faded together, so did his hope. 
So he had left the spot and spent his time flying instead, never getting closer to the ground than the tallest tree. He had flown far from here, seeing the places he knew from the air, so different looking than on the ground. How amazing that had been. 
Then he flew farther, seeing places he had never seen, only knowing them from above, only seeing them as close as the tallest tree and never any closer. He had flown so far away that he had come to a place, where as far as he could see, there were no trees. No trees, how sad a place is when it has no trees, he had thought. And then, he turned around. 
He had flown back slowly, as a familiar anxiousness grew quietly within him to return to the wide boulevard. Now he returned every spring, early in the season, in fact, sometimes it was still late winter when he began to swoop and circle over the boulevard at night. He did not want to miss it. He did not want to miss That Day, That Night, in springtime where it might feel just like it did on That Day, so long ago. He felt sure, that spring would be the season to wait in the evenings and watch over the boulevard. 
To pass the daylight hours, he would watch the cherry blossoms bloom around the city, but faithfully return to his nightly watch over the boulevard. He would continue this routine until the last pink petal had been blown from the last cherry tree. Only then could he feel sure that the season had passed again, with nothing. Tonight it felt exactly as it had That Day, That Night. Unlike any other day since, it had never felt quite so exactly the same. He was nearly bursting with hope and expectation. He waited and he watched. Night turned late and then, very late, very Quiet. But he saw nothing. He waited and he watched, but that magical window of night had come and gone and he knew it.
The bird flapped his wings a bit to stretch, as if trying to shake off a feeling of regret from his feathers. He sighed a long disappointment and if he had been a normal bird, it would have sounded like a sad, melodic bird song. But he had never learned to sing. And so, all anyone heard, if there had been anyone around to hear it, was Quiet.

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