by Melanie Odhner
sticky and fuzzy, the line between flesh and tangled wind. should be warm here. should be the hot, sick red of light on eyelids.
turning gray, wanting glass to fill my lungs. not glass. something clear
something beyond my head and chest. limbs. dead weight. living wind. dying bird.
what was that last part?
My eyes opened. I woke to sky laced with fine black cracks. Branches, I decided. And that fuzzy rustling sound must have woken me.
I turned to look. The rustling stopped.
With difficulty, I spotted the quivering of a terrified animal. A crow, pure black like an ink blob. No shifting gray lines reflected to give depth or details. The blurry outline of a bird, thrown on the forest floor to die. It didn’t belong.
Freezing wind hurt my eyes. I blinked away tears. Wet reminded me of my dry mouth, which reminded me of my numb legs. Cold in my stomach told me I no longer believed in warm.
Eyes clear, I saw the bird clawing for purchase on the stick-covered ground. No blood, but it couldn’t pull free from the dirt hollow it was accidentally carving.
Still dark out. Barely. I knew not to walk this far in winter. Long way home. Moving hurt. Not moving scared.
I got up, brushing frost off my jeans. An ornate, gray-and-white kaleidoscope of dizzy clouded my vision. When that settled, I looked at the bird. It had stopped shaking. I had started.