This, like, totally happened today.
There was a strange bird sitting on top of a telephone pole. He was all black and shaggy, with a big red beak sticking out of a cloud of feathers. I say he, but of course it could just as well had been a she.
I saw him when I went out for a walk. The writing was slow going this morning. I had slept deeply and not even two cups of black coffee were able to chase the night away. So I walked. I said hi to the farm cats on my way out and stared down the white goat in the pen outside. And then I just kept walking. Down narrow lanes with thick hedges on either side, dodging the cars that drove city fast and slowed down just before I came into view.
After a while I came to a crossing. Five lanes it’s called. And one of those lanes is a narrow muddy path. Of course that’s the one I chose. Even though it’s only early autumn the path was covered in a soft carpet of dead leaves. Perhaps some left over from last year. There were plenty of flies buzzing around and branches sticking out, ready to poke you in the face or give you a pat on the shoulder. There must be horses using the path as well because I kept having to step around piles of dung.
The path was leading upward, on a slight incline. After climbing for a bit there was a clearing. And that’s where I saw the bird. He was sitting perfectly still and at first I wasn’t sure if it was just some kind of elaborate scarecrow or a Halloween costume left out in the cold. Then he turned his head and looked straight at me. Blinking with a large black eye.
“Hello there”, I said.
“Hello yourself”, the bird replied.
That’s when I knew I’d been right. It was a he. The bird had a deep voice.
“You’re far away from home”, he said.
“I guess so”, I replied.
After that we looked at each other for a while.
“Where are you from”, I finally asked.
He blinked again and flapped his wings a couple of times. I realised he was a lot bigger than I had thought at first. I’m not great with these things, but I’m sure his wingspan was twice my own height. His feathers looked like slick spilt oil in the sunlight. The bird shook his wings lightly, folded them back again and yawned, at least that’s what I think he did.
“You wouldn’t know it anyway”, he said.
“The place where I’m from.”
“Maybe I will”, I said.
“Well. It’s a little bit east and west of here. A little bit above and a little bit below. There is a moon that never sets and there is always music in the air. And the bugs taste great.”
“No. I don’t know it”, I said.
“Do you know where you’re going”, the bird asked.
“Well you have plenty of time to figure it out on the way”, he said and flapped his wings again.
“It’s been nice talking to you”, he continued. “But I must be off”.
He flapped and flapped and a couple of branches fell down on the path as his wings brushed past them. I followed him as far as I could, until he was only a black dot against the sky. And then I continued walking up the hill.