Little Song Bird

by slodwick

There's a whole lot of singing that's never gonna be heard, Disappearing everyday without so much as a word somehow...

It's March and it's still cold. The bedsprings creak when Jonathan leans forward to ease on his slippers. The worn floorboards creak when he steps out of bed. The sun is still lingering somewhere below the eastern horizon, but through thin cotton drapes he can see dark purple giving way to dusky gold. He's a farmer, after all, and no one could fault him for being awake now.

The lamp on the nightstand stays off. He takes a couple shuffling steps away from the bed, and stops when his foot catches on the corner of the hand-woven rug. The floor below him is obscured in murky shadows, but he can make out the mosaic colors of his old blue jeans that Martha had used to make the rug. It's heavy, with thick strips of denim laced tightly together, and there's a dull thud when he kicks it back into place.

He stands there, in the middle of the quiet room for a full minute. Then another. And another. The alarm clock he doesn't need anymore slowly ticks off the seconds. He doesn't notice that his hands are clenched fists, his stomach trembling beneath that thin t-shirt. He'll wonder at the half-moon wounds on his palms later.

All he knows in this moment is that there's no noise beyond that bathroom door. The narrow porcelain counter will be bone dry, and the toothpaste will be right where he left it. The toilet seat's been up for four days and counting. In the trashcan is a day-old Irish Spring wrapper, because he couldn't bring himself to use the gently curved bar in the shower. That bottle of Suave won't ever see empty.

For the fourth time in as many days, Jonathan considers crawling back into bed. Just saying, "fuck you" to the world. He wants to curl his body around her pillow and breathe deep. He wants to pull the quilt up high to block out the sunlight. He wants to put his own pillow over his head so he doesn't have to hear this silence.

But that isn't what happens.

Instead his feet are moving, not towards the bathroom, but the hallway. He can't stop his mind from listing the things he has to do, the phone calls, the chores, the repairs. He can't be sure he wants to stop it.

Approaching the door, he bumps into her vanity. Not the flimsy sort they sell at Wal-Mart, thin and brass and liable to break the instant a person sits on the tiny stool. No, this was the one her mother had used, all solid wood and thick marble top, but it still shakes when his hip connects. A jarring melody of rattling glass fills the air, and something tips over.

The tall mirror reflects the empty room, the empty chair. Dust is gathering already, coating her assorted perfume bottles and lipstick tubes. There's a silver pendant draped haphazardly across her jewelry box. Some sort of pale powder is sprinkled across its surface. He wonders if that powder smells like her skin, like that spot on her temple he kissed every morning over coffee.

Movement catches his eye, and the ceramic figurine that toppled over when he bumped the vanity has now rolled precariously close to the blunt marble edge. He thinks it's a bluebird, something cheerful. She loved that bird. There's a spot worn through the paint on the top of its blue bird head. If he closes his eyes, he can remember her walking past, brushing her fingers just there.

For luck, she'd said.

Jonathan just stares at the bird, so close to falling, as its black eyes come clearer in the slowly seeping daylight. He stares and stares, that clock still counting off time somewhere behind him. He stares and then he reaches out one aching hand.

A simple motion, and that fragile bird are falling.

He isn't sure what he expected. He doesn't know if he thought the bird would spread its wings, fly away and somehow stop the fall. He doesn't know what he expected, but it doesn't happen.

The crash is loud, and for a moment it drowns out the clock. Pieces scatter everywhere, coming to rest under the vanity, under the bed, across that denim rug. He steps gingerly over the shards, into the silent hallway. He closes the door behind him.

He doesn't believe in luck.

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