The Day The Birds Came

Kyra Kondis

At first, there was just one: a scarlet macaw. It followed Patricia onto the school bus, nipped at the pink-plastic butterfly clips holding back her bangs, dug its talons into her bag. We asked Patricia, What’s with the bird? and she shrugged and turned magenta and looked at her knees. When the bus driver tried to shoo it away, it smacked him in the face with its big crimson wings, and we all wondered why cool stuff like that didn’t happen to us.

At lunch, four more appeared. Two goldfinches, a pigeon, and a Canada goose. The goose honked after Patricia as she carried her tray to her table. The pigeon pecked the corn out of her succotash. We whispered, Why Patricia? What does she have that we don’t? and Patricia poked at her food, gingerly shuttling bites to her mouth while the birds pricked her hands with their beaks.

In math class, there were even more—birds we didn’t know the name of, birds that perched on Patricia’s shoulders, birds that fluffed up their wings and squawked her name into the stuffy classroom air. Patricia hunched down in her seat until Mr. Bollinger excused her from class, and we all wondered how, how, how anyone could get so lucky.

By three, there were so many, we couldn’t keep track of them anymore. While we waited for the bus, some of them hovered around Patricia like a cloud of crayon-box colors, and the rest weighed down the crabapple tree by the playground, the telephone wire, the rungs of the jungle gym. If one more bird landed there, even just a small one, we thought it might be enough to sink the whole world down lower in the sky, and that felt important. We wished we were important like Patricia; we wished we had whatever it was that she did.

And then, there was no more Patricia—there were just birds. Birds flitting home because they were too big for the bus. Birds, we imagined, waddling around Patricia’s living room, nibbling on her textbooks, eating her unwanted vegetables. She’s so lucky, we whispered to ourselves as we sprinkled birdseed on our windows that night, as we filled our backpacks with Ziploc bags of worms, as we doodled wings on our math homework. She’s so lucky, she’s so interesting, she’s so cool.

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Kyra Kondis is an MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University and is the Assistant Editor-In-Chief for So to Speak Journal. Her favorite kind of bird is probably the mallard duck, because she thinks they’re cute. Some of her recent work can be found in Matchbook, Wigleaf, or at kyrakondis.com.