I’m not crying. That’s a good thing. I’m not crying, but even if I was, I think that would be ok. I mean it would be fair enough, that’s what I’m getting at. Today doesn’t look too good, and my bum is going to sleep, it’s all pins and needles. My sleeping bum has woken thoughts and fears of piles. I’ve been here before. Not piles, the pins and needles I mean. It’s ok, I’ll get up in a minute, hopefully. The bird is still wriggling around in the tangy autumn leaves at my feet. Burnt orange and yellow, all mushy and stained with dirt and fresh blood. It smells good. Clean dirt, good dirt, is an under appreciated smell. It’s alive. It’s generous. It gives way to stern fingers and opens up like a cheap drunk.
The sun feels good. Bones crack as my head goes back, lifting my nose to the sky. I’m pacing now. I can move because the bird is still. His feathers shift in the breeze, but his broken body is stiff and cooling. I unfold my handkerchief and dry my eyes. There is less blood on the hanky than I expected. There is conversely more feathers. The breeze picks up and I start whistling. It’s relaxing, in its way. Staring up into a week blue autumn sky, the wind gusts over the lip of my freshly renovated left eye socket and whistles like a beer bottle. I feel the shallow hole filling with sunlight, waking up nerves, they wriggle and tingle, stretching and yawning like a bear in the spring.
I walk back to the bird in the shade of a big old apple tree. Kneeling down to gather the tiny body, my knees sink gently into the earth. The soil is dark, cool and hungry. I cup the little bird in my hands like water, and lift him up for examination. Perfect. His body is broken, there is no doubt, but his little bird head has survived intact.
I saw him coming, he was racing toward me. He flew like an arrow. I sat perfectly still, white knuckled and watching. Inches from my face it looked as though he tried to stop. He twisted his little body around in mid air, but he kept on coming. He crashed tail end first, with sharp little claws flapping like extra wings. Those claws punched through the layer of skin that covered my empty left eye socket and he thumped into the cave. The impact shattered his candy glass bones and sent him tumbling back out of my empty staring eye and onto the leafy mattress below.
I’m digging now. I’m digging with my hands at the base of the apple tree; in a football-sized gap between two submerging bark covered roots. I’m looking for something but I’m not sure what, so I’ll keep on digging until I find it.
I’m crying. That’s fair enough. I tore the nail off my rude right finger and the exposed nerves are cracking the shits like it’s their first day of school. I was digging, looking for…something. All I found was a rough edged rock, my fingernail decided to stay with the rock and I bled and swore into the hole.
I’m not crying anymore and my finger has stopped bleeding. I’m wiping the last of the dirt off the exposed top of the rock that kissed my finger. In the dirt I find nine detached fingernails, all in varying stages of decomposition. Wiped free of dirt, I can see the rock is decorated with dry blood and claw marks. I’ve been here before. Not the rock, I don’t think, I mean the pins and needles. I’m kneeling and my knees are oddly numb and jittery. I stand up and stretch. I brush the dark damp earth from the front of my jeans and blow gently on my finger.
The bird is very cold now and completely stiff like stale bread. On the bench beneath the tree, he lies on his broken back with one eye open. His other eye sits on a stone, in the cupped hands of an apple tree. I return the soil, bit by bit, careful not pack it too loose or too firm. The hole slowly fills and the air grows chill and moist as night strolls towards me through the park. The hole is full, and my cupped hands hold an excess of rich dark soil. Bones crack as my head tilts back; naked branches sit quiet above me. Gently, I fill the fresh dug hole to the left of my nose. I’ve been here before. I’m not crying. Tomorrow should look better.