30 days, 30 pages with writing on them. That's the deal.


Short Stories (cont'd.)

i) When the bird first started following her around, she wasn't sure what to do. It took her awhile to figure out what was happening. At first she thought she just had a tune stuck in her head that she didn't recognize, and she couldn't figure out why. Then she realized the song seemed to be something she was actually hearing, not just imagining. One day she finally noticed that when she would walk, the song would continue and when she would stop, the singing would stop too. She spent an entire day testing it to see if it was true, walking a few steps, then stopping abruptly, running a bit, veering into an alley, ducking into a building. But every time she resumed her walk, the song came right along with her. 

Eventually she turned around and saw it. The bird lit just above where she was standing, a brilliant blue flash in the tree. She walked right up beneath it and looked it squarely in its bird eye. There was no flutter, no blink, no ruffling of feathers, no recognition. There was no reaction at all. Only a silent, patient stare from between two leaves, just above her head. 

The next day she had a crazy thought. It occurred to her that perhaps she'd wished for happiness for so long, she'd actually wished it into existence. 

Once she'd made that connection, she couldn't stop thinking about it, wondering if it could possibly be true. The more she thought, the more she began to worry. Soon she couldn't even enjoy the song anymore, for fear that it wasn't really true and the manifestation of her new happiness might one day suddenly disappear. What if the bird actually meant something quite different? What if it didn't mean anything at all? What if the song she'd taken to humming constantly was only a silly thing she'd thought up herself? 

These thoughts filled her with anxiety. She began to check the moment she woke up in the morning to see if the bird was still there. It always was, just waiting to begin their daily walk together. At night, she would creep from bed when she couldn't sleep and shine a flashlight into the tree to make sure it was waiting for her while she slept. 

Soon it became difficult to concentrate on anything else. She became desperate to keep it, but was painfully aware she didn't have any real ownership or control. The bird always stayed just out of reach. She thought that perhaps if she could just lure it into a cage, she might really, truly feel like it belonged to her and be able to relax and enjoy it again. 

She bought a net and tried unsuccessfully to swipe it off the branch. She put seed in a dish on the windowsill and offered it quietly. She built a small nest to wear in her hair, hoping it might lure the bird closer. She began leaving the windows open in the apartment, thinking it might unwittingly fly in so then she could slam them shut. Eventually she became fearful to leave home, worrying that if she caused the bird to follow her it might find someone else more interesting, or become lost, lose sight of her or even fall prey to some tragic outcome. 

But every day while she worried inside, the bird continued to stare, blank and quiet, from the tree outside.

Days passed in silence. 

Then one morning she realized that if she wanted to actually hear the song, she was going to have to begin moving again. It was obvious she could not own the bird, and its song was not a thing to be kept or chased, but rather a thing that must be allowed to follow her. Of course, that would require her to keep looking in the direction she was moving instead of in the direction of the song itself. It was difficult, but she began to train herself to listen for the song and focus on enjoying it rather than obsessively scanning the trees for the source. 

She had no answers or explanations about what it might mean, or how long it would stay, but then she didn't need to know. Because as long as she kept walking, she had not only the song, but also the bird itself.

j) Every day when he got on the train, he noticed the giraffe sitting in the seat at the rear of the car. He wondered where she worked. He had no idea what kind of job a giraffe like that would find in the city. He'd never noticed any giraffes in the building in which he had his office, nor in the streets surrounding it where he would sometimes walk during his lunch hour. He wanted to sit down next to her, to comment on the elegant curve of her neck, the uncanny way her spots mirrored the irregular brown ones on his own favorite tie. Had she noticed that too? 

He observed that she mostly stared quietly out the window, sometimes absently chewing leaves. No one ever seemed to sit next to her, nor in front of her either. He thought about how that must hurt. It wasn't as if she were threatening in any way. It wasn't as if the chewing were loud or obnoxious. But admittedly, there was something slightly unnerving about the fact that she was a giraffe. 

And yet, those spots. 

The long, gentle sweep of eyelashes that he thought of every night while looking at his own unremarkable eyes in the mirror as he got ready for bed. 

Some day, he was going to work up the nerve to say something. It would be awkward. He needed to think of just the right way to strike up a casual conversation. There would be the height difference too. Some women weren't comfortable with that, but hopefully she'd give him a chance. Surely the spotted tie was a good omen. It was, after all, a complete coincidence! It seemed so unexpectedly hopeful. Somehow he felt certain he'd never before tried to date someone with whom he had so much in common.