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Rated: E · Short Story · Drama · #2199363
A bird was singing outside but Sarah couldn’t see it. She wondered if it was beautiful.
There was a bird singing outside but Sarah couldn’t see it from her place at the kitchen counter. The sound of the unseen bird added to the number of noises that surrounded Sarah in the kitchen: the mechanical whirr of the refrigerator, the low, hissing burble of boiling stew, the rhythmic scratch-thunk of her knife through carrot after carrot. Sarah thought about the bird, though, and wondered if it was beautiful.

Scratch-thunk, whirr, burble – tweet-a-tweet.

A pile of sliced carrots was growing on Sarah’s right, all ready to be thrown into the pot. It was quite an impressive mound of precisely cut orange disks and she probably had plenty for the stew, but she kept cutting more. She figured she’d use the last of the carrots – and anyway, carrots were good for you, right? They were full of vitamins that made you strong, or helped improve your skin and hair and teeth, or otherwise helped your body function as a body should function. Carrots were good.

Scratch-thunk, whirr, burble – tweet-a-tweet.

Sarah could see her garden from the window over the sink. She could see rows of flowers that were yellow and white and pinkish-red. They were an array of lilies and pansies, planted ages ago and left to their own devices when Sarah had lost interest. Though turned wild, they still managed to blossom gloriously without her help. The striking blooms practically glowed in the golden light of the afternoon, contrasted against the verdant leaves and grass around them.

She had two carrots left to carefully slice and slide into the pile.

Scratch-thunk, whirr, burble – tweet-a-tweet.

Her mind wandered to that twittering bird. She wondered what the creature with that sweet, high-pitched song looked like. Sarah imagined it to be a bird as brightly colored as the lilies and pansies in her garden. She imagined a bird that couldn’t possibly exist, one which was yellow and white and pinkish-red, with a fanciful crest atop its head and iridescent patterns that would captivate and hypnotize the other birds around it. She imagined that bird singing and primping and flitting from branch to branch in the afternoon light, capturing the rays of the sun on its breast and along the curve of its wings. She imagined a jewel of a creature, infused with a natural joy that erupted from its throat in the form of fine song, a small creature of massive dignity and beauty.

The thought of such a bird made Sarah reflect on her own appearance: her limp, greying hair, her wrinkled face and weathered hands, her frumpy dresses in colors that might have been bright and joyful at some point but had been washed and ironed into dull, dreary echoes of what they used to be. She sighed and kept slicing carrots, her gaze occasionally shifting up to the window on the chance that she might catch sight of the warbling bird outside, to match its voice with something real in her mind.

Scratch-thunk, whirr, burble – tweet-a-tweet.

It was a lone bird. She could only hear its little tweet-a-tweet and no answering call. She wondered what it was even singing for, if no other birds were around to reply to it.

The refrigerator stopped its whirring, removing an element from the soundtrack to Sarah’s afternoon. She had one carrot left to slice and then the scratch-thunk would be gone as well. Then it would be the swish of scooping up the sliced carrots, and the plop of dropping them into the boiling stew and the clunk of setting the lid on top of the pot.

This was exactly how things went. Swish, plop, clunk – and Sarah wasn’t surprised to find that, with the lid in place, she couldn’t hear the burble of the stew so much anymore. It was just Sarah and the sound of the beautiful bird, then, and she listened to it reverently.

She went back to imagining her glittering jewel bird, alone in the sparse suburban thickets of her neighborhood. She worried her bottom lip and, without the cutting of carrots to distract her any longer, her attention shifted from the phantom bird outside her kitchen window to the stack of papers sitting, neatly marked and tagged, on her kitchen table.

Sarah sympathized with her lonely bird. She hoped to God that the bird was as beautiful as she imagined it to be. She felt like it must be – if not as lovely as the version she envisioned, then at least as pretty as nature would truly allow. It was bright red or orange or blue and black, it had to be, she decided. She also decided that, with a bird as beautiful as hers must be, it would find a mate and cease its solitary singing soon as well.

With a deep breath, Sarah let go of the knife she’d been using to cut carrots and stepped away, toward the kitchen table. She flipped the papers over and read the heading, bold and formal: DIVORCE FOR PARTIES WITH NO CHILDREN.

She had children, actually. They were grown. In this respect, they did not exist.

She picked up the pen that had been left next to the papers and, with great care and concentration, signed her name where all the little markers indicated.

She didn’t notice that the singing of her bird had stopped, or that the little bird itself had fluttered up to and landed on one of Sarah’s bright, wild yellow lilies to catch a fleeing beetle – in perfect view of the kitchen window.

It was a tiny, jumpy thing without adornment, and with feathers as brown and plain as mud. Tweet-a-tweet, it sang, high and bright and beautiful.
© Copyright 2019 D. Marie (cattuccino at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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