3.

“Oh!” cried Shirley out loud, truly surprised.  She had been in a humid, aimless space. Shooting up from the couch, she ran over to a small white dove that had flown straight into the glass doors, and crouching down to inspect it saw that it was now laying belly up on the porch tile. Shirley frantically pulled back the glass doors, stepped onto the patio, and scooped up the bird that twitched its beak once and then stopped moving.

“Dead,” said Shirley aloud. She felt she was announcing it to an audience of silent judicial faces looking at her, who then proceeded to mark down on their notepads a guilty verdict. They were watching her and contemplating the next thing to do. To see if she were capable of dealing with a bird. 

With this heat, anything with a beating heart could surely perish, so Shirley—on the off chance that it were still alive—scooped up the bird in a towel, careful not to touch it’s little bird body and brought it inside. She didn’t want to further upset it or intrude on its simple nature. Little aviating orb.  She also thought one could never be too careful, never too antiseptic. The bird could be carrying a bird virus and Shirley had just finished a cold.  Sometimes she forgot to recognize her own self as organic and natural because she could get so carried away through her mind and completely detach from the fact that she too would one day perish. Like this bird, she would one day hit a glass wall and pop her lid off. And she was scared to die and that’s the real reason she picked the bird up with one of her pink, fluffy towels instead of her hands.

Shirley and Jane sat, watching the thing, silently sipping what was left of their tea.

“I hope it’s not dead. I saw my calico cat catch a bird once and hold it in her jaws as she ran up the yard towards me to give me the gift. I grabbed her and pried open her teeth and the bird flew away, alive and unharmed. That death could be evaded every now and then amazed me.”

Jane listened as Shirley talked, smiling sweet and rocking slowly back and forth on the oak rocking chair.

Suddenly the dove shot open its eyes and righting itself, took off around the odd-shaped room, flying and flapping uncontrollably. It rested on the TV stand and then the vase of white roses that were wilting and stinking up the room with the smell of rotting botanicals. With a slow swooping movement, the bird took off for the shiny glass doors that had been closed to keep the heat out. Now that they’d been closed, the dove slammed into the doors a second time and in horror Shirley knew that this time it was dead for good.  It bounced backward with the precision of a racquetball hitting the back wall and dropped onto the carpet with a small and contained thunk.

A little trickle of blood dripped down the dove’s white coat onto the rug, making three little dots that absorbed immediately into the carpeting. 

Outside the glass doors, Shirley’s shout—shouted from the deepest of her heart-felt capabilities—was muffled by the waves that rolled again endlessly all over the increasingly hot island. Wailing noises came in volcanic eruption segments, eventually slowing to whimpers, silent, unforced, and then stillness.

In heat-induced delirium Shirley always forgot everything. Of course the bird would come-to and when it did it would be terrified to see her googly eyes staring down at it and the bird would bolt for the familiar blue sky that it was used to.