[ fiction - april 08 ]
The birds are the most intelligent species, being distant relatives of the gods. In fact it is from the gods that they derive their power. When Venus and Apollo first needed someone to watch over us while they slept, they chose the birds. This was necessary because they feared we might disappear when they closed their eyes.
From up there, they reasoned, the birds would have a perfect position for the job. They can see everything - villages, cities, churches, fields, children, schools, offices. They can observe the most tedious things - our tangled trips, our tax returns, our heartbreaking sincerity.
And so the birds protected us from disappearing while the two lovers drowsed. They continue their work to this day. They watch over us and unlike the gods they do not laugh. Instead they caw or sing, and remain where they are.
The next time you see a bird on the surface of the earth watch how the ground seems to be on fire under his feet, even in winter. The way he hops about nervously as though fearing infection. If you watch these things you will learn many secrets about the birds. When they take flight, a heaviness leaves them instantly.
They have been a boon to the gods. Reliable, trustworthy, discreet. Venus and Apollo have named many of their children after the birds.
Sometimes I too have a strange urge to join their ranks. In moments of madness I think that I can glimpse this nation of birds. This usually happens on the odd occasion when my sincerity is not heartbreaking but believable. Or else it happens when I play the violin. I open the window and watch how they range themselves on the telegraph wire in order to listen and join in. I cannot hold them for long. When they scatter I anger like a child. These moments of irritation remind me of times when I struggled with thirteen times tables.
I know I am forbidden from joining them. And so I take up my gun every winter.
I have hunted so many birds.