Gray sheets, grime, chill of metal. Smell of ancient burned toast. What’s a home anyway? Outside, a nest fallen from the tree whose roots heave the sidewalk. Why doesn’t the nest fall to pieces? Caught inside the bowl of twigs and purloined strangers’ hair, the darkish down of the absent bird. The girl is eight, maybe ten. Bare head, bare arms, bare legs. It’s February. Bare feet, one cut and bleeding. Bloody footprints shaped like valentine hearts track over the porch steps, from door to tree. Tree to door. Door like a waiting maw. Inside, scattered glass, shards large and small. Deathly quiet now. Smell of ancient burnt toast. The soiled sheets. Where is the bird? Where did she go?
Peg Alford Pursell is the author of SHOW HER A FLOWER, A BIRD, A SHADOW, the 2017 INDIES Book of the Year for Literary Fiction, a collection of fiction and hybrid prose selected by Poets & Writers magazine for its second annual “5 over 50” feature. Her second collection of fiction and hybrid prose, A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST, is forthcoming from Dzanc Books in July 2019. Her work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including Permafrost, Joyland, and the Los Angeles Review. She directs Why There Are Words, a national literary reading series she founded in Sausalito in 2010, and is the director and founder of WTAW Press, an independent publisher of exceptional literary books. Visit www.pegalfordpursell.com for more.