Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Entry #142

Forgotten Ornithology
by Angel Zapata


Seventy-eight year-old, Lillian often dreams of murder. The doctors speak of her mind as caught between the bygone and the lost, but she’s never forgotten the body in the snow. Who was that man? She wonders before her thoughts flutter away. Brenda, the nurse at her bedside, taps Lillian’s left arm vein and draws blood.

“How’s little bird this evening?” Brenda chirps.

Lillian frowns, struggles to communicate.

“Take your time.” Brenda releases the tourniquet and applies a band-aid.

“The crow,” Lillian blurts.

“Ah, yes,” Brenda agrees. “I’ll bring him to you.” She retrieves the scrapbook from the bedside tray, opens to the page with a pasted black feather, and sets it on Lillian’s lap. “You have a good night, little bird.” She winks and exits the room.

Lillian fingers the foreign texture of absent wings. It comes to her, this overwhelming need to view the sky. She’s not entirely sure how she knows the American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos, has an average body length of 17-21 inches. A vocation as ornithologisthenpecks memory, briefly seeds failing brain cells.

She climbs out of bed, shuffles to the window. The iron bars of the prison hospital throw shadows in the snow outside.

She doesn’t remember killing the man in the woods or sprinkling birdseed over bullet holes in his chest.

In her dreams, a bird circles above her head and drops a scrapbook feather in her hands moments before the crows feast on a husband who cheated one too many times.

41 comments:

Bernita said...

"before her thoughts flutter away", "Brenda chirps."
Love this sort of succinct integration.
Excellent writing.

wrath999 said...

Cool story.

'doctors speak of her mind as caught between the bygone and the lost,' Great line

Michael Solender said...

totally and completely maniacal and wicked. whoa!

Deb S said...

Don't get on Grandma's bad side! Nice job weaving the bird theme through out.

Four Dinners said...

And John Wayne Bobbit thought he'd got a hard deal from his ex!!!

Very spooky. Loved this a lot!

peggy said...

Great story telling, Angel.

Laurel said...

Fantastic story with nicely sprinkled detail...like birdseed!

I'm not sure if it's sad or peaceful that she can't remember.

laughingwolf said...

well done, angel...

kashers said...

Loved the idea of sprinkling birdseed into the bullet holes. The diddy ol' bird plainly has ean evil streak.

Aniket said...

They don't joke around when they say "Hell hath no fury..."

Loved how her character unravels through the piece. Nice pacing.

lena said...

Love the details you used to make your story complete. Great writing.

Anonymous said...

Nice build-up of your character's story. Very very creative. Bravo! --JR

pjd said...

LOL @Aniket

I like the different approach of the murderer troubled by not being able to remember who killed the man. But she also knows her own trigger that will bring back the memory. A little sanity is preferable, I suppose, even if it brings pain, anger, and guilt.

Meghan said...

A really creative tale. Very unique! Good job. :)

Lee Hughes said...

Bird seed and bullet holes. You never disappoint Angel, cracking piece.

Craig said...

I like how you brought out her obsession with birds through all the little details.

David Barber said...

Excellent piece, Angel. Great ending.

Regards, David.

austere said...

This one's very good.

Chris Allinotte said...

Just excellent writing.

Loved the way everything fit together and flowed to the macabre end.

The descriptions, like "A vocation as ornithologist henpecks memory, briefly seeds failing brain cells." made this piece.

Great piece.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Wonderful. 'caught between the bygone and the lost'. Oh, I know what they mean.

catvibe said...

Great imagery. I was surprised she was in a prison hospital because I had her having senility in a home, but then the story unfolds. Sad tale this. Excellent writing.

Lily Childs said...

Whoa - absolutely delicious.

I'm sad (for her) that she's in jail, but glad she got him, especially the way she did it.

How lovely she can forget it all - despite the feathered reminder.

Really enjoyed this.

Angel Zapata said...

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all the feedback.

CJT said...

Very well written and I loved the setup. The end was fantastic!!!!

Erin Cole said...

She doesn’t remember killing the man in the woods or sprinkling birdseed over bullet holes in his chest. - brilliant.
I loved that the character is old, supposed to be sweet, playing cribbage - not daydreaming of diabolical revenge - and anything with birds in it is cool to me.

McKoala said...

Very complete and satisfying.

Kartik said...

Hard to say if it's a good thing that she doesn't remember the murder, but her angst was put in perspective.

Tim Remp said...

Losing my memory is one of the scariest things to me. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a blessing.

Great piece.

-Tim
#138
http://timremp.blogspot.com/

Stephanie Green said...

I absolutely love the composition- especially my understanding of this crazed and vulnerable old woman into the tough old bird who coldly disposed of the man who wronged her.

I appreciated the heck out of this story.

Barry J. Northern said...

You got a lot of story into a short space and stuck to a great theme, used in her forgotten past in many ways. How tragic that her life-long love of ornithology should turn to insane murder, and that then she should forget it all save for vague, confused snatches like this.

truevoid said...

nice story!

JaneyV said...

Clever, sad beautiful and an almighty kick at the end.
Great writing.

quin browne said...

yay!! i'm lovin' this character.

Preeti said...

That was some god writing.

I loved the first line. Got me all interested.
The interaction was convincing. The style of narration was good. The characterization was also commendable. Even the unseen husband came into focus.
Liked.

Aimee Laine said...

I loved all the word usage in this! "seeds" for example. :) great job!

Aerin said...

Hum, hum, I thought I already commented here. Did I not? Rats.


my caveat

Something I Would Keep

"drops a scrapbook feather" is a wicked cool image, so perfectly efficient; you've done better than anyone else, I think, in cleverly using the bird theme throughout ("chirps," "henpecks")

Something I Might Tweak

"It comes to her, this overwhelming need" etc....I'd remove the "it comes to her" - if it's overwhelming, then maybe that's your verb?

Christian Bell said...

Excellent description throughout, in a unique take on this picture. The words just flow wonderfully from start to finish to create a compelling tale. Great job!

Rabid Fox said...

Dark and vengeful. I like it.

Chris Eldin said...

Deliciously wicked! I loved the birdseed part!

illyriataylor said...

WOW. You took a very common theme in this contest and made it unique.
Very vivid.

Corra McFeydon said...

Chilling story - excellent writing! So much packed into so few words. My compliments.

~ Corra McFeydon