by Nathaniel Lee
It was not a sound that drew my attention. I looked down at my feet, at the source of the not-a-sound. The shadows of trees crept across the sidewalk like black water.
A bird stretched its shadow-wings on the shadow-branches in answer to my gaze. Wide wings, delineated against the concrete. Predator’s wings. A hawk.
I looked up at the trees, squinting against the sun. There was no bird on the branches.
On the sidewalk, the bird hopped back and forth, agitated.
hurry, hurry, it said. oh hurry.
“Hurry where?” I asked.
follow, came my answer. follow and hurry.
It fluttered to the next shadow-tree, paused, looked back. I glanced at the sky. The sun was sinking low. Soon there would be no shadows, or it would all be shadow. I looked back to the shadow-bird, thin and elongated. I followed and hurried.
My guide led me into the woods, one shadow among many on the snow. We crunched across icy leaves and stopped in a clearing.
I looked at the ground. A bird, solid and real, lay stiffly in a small depression. Dead. I saw no wounds, no sign of scavengers.
“Even the fall of a sparrow,” I muttered. There had to be a witness, I knew. Where was he? Was it only songbirds who earned his love? Had he left us? Were we alone now?
Then I understood. “I see you,” I whispered.
The sun set. The shadow was gone.