Yesterday morning when the doorbell rang, I yanked off the t-shirt I sleep in and hurriedly pulled on sweatpants and a sweatshirt, but by the time I got to the door, there was no one there.
Nothing but a small dead bird on the porch in front of the screen door.
About the size of a sparrow, pale brown and smooth with a speckled belly. Soft. Delicate. Eyes glazed. Maybe it had a broken neck from flying into a window but there are no windows near the door. There was no blood. It didn’t look like it had been mauled by a cat. Several cats prowl our yard, but I rarely see a dead bird. Once a year at most.
It felt like an omen.
On New Year’s Eve in 2011, thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in a small town in Arkansas. No wonder the residents believed they were a sign of biblical apocalypse. Just one seems portentous, a sign that requires deciphering. Loss of freedom? The death of a loved one? A visit from a departed spirit? Who can divine its meaning?
A small brown bird, inert on the cement porch, discovered after the doorbell mysteriously rings. A quiet, sun-dappled yard in late morning. Not a soul on the street. The moment replays itself with the hallucinatory clarity of a dream.
I wait for the future now, alert. Something is bound to happen.
Jacqueline Doyle has published flash in Quarter After Eight, [PANK], Monkeybicycle, Sweet, The Pinch, and elsewhere. Her flash chapbook The Missing Girl is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be found online at www.jacquelinedoyle.com.