story #5 in my “23 stories for a fried chicken sandwich” project.
today one bushtit in a small troop of bushtits fell behind, lost step, got the hiccups, or momentarily reconsidered everything about the life he’s been living thus far.
he lifted off the bare-branched pomegranate tree, just like all the others, in a perfectly choreographed swish against the backdrop of the silvery blue sky. but by the time the group passed in front of my window, the perfect lines of their group dance broke. or he broke. i held my breath and watched him hover middair in a shockingly long delay while the others soared on.
i thought sure he’d fall, drop out of the air in a hard, fast plunk onto the pavement down below. it could happen before my very eyes. his frolic in this world could just end. stop. disappear. there was even enough time for me to imagine the invisible thread hanged down from the sky, slip-knotted tightly to his wings. a thread so strong that he had an impossibly long moment to will himself skyward again. reconsider. breathe. dream bigger.
and just like that, up and away he went again without a single flap of his wings.
i ran to the next window to watch the birds’ continued path to the elm two houses down. by the time i pressed my hand to the glass, i couldn’t tell that one bushtit’s grace from the next.