Spooky Glitter Bunting

Spooky Glitter Bunting

Spooky Glitter Bunting

It was supposed to be a normal July morning. Here in America it is common practice to fill the garden with flags when July 4th approaches: an incredible waste, if you ask me how I feel, but hey, who has ever asked my opinion? I was convinced that going out into the garden to stretch my legs still in my pajamas I would find myself in front of the usual spectacle of lights, horns and flags, and maybe even some fireworks from the most enthusiastic.

I was wrong. This morning was unusually quiet for July. Even before I left I hadn’t heard horns, kids screaming excitedly and people chatting loudly along the street – in a populated area like mine it was very strange – but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

I was still half asleep, Hypnos still held me tight like the best of lovers and I had no desire to let it go, I let myself be lulled by that morning warmth and the warm aroma of coffee in the morning, which strengthened my bones and the intestine. Then I put my first foot out, and immediately shivered: there was an icy wind outside, too cold for a July day. I put on my red cloth robe, but felt cold as if it came from within.

I put my foot out again, and there was not a living soul. The doors of some houses were wide open as if other owners like me had come out in slippers to retrieve the newspaper – which was not there – others had windows slamming open, others had water pipes that created puddles in the garden and others the lawnmowers who had fronted the fence walls and muttered. It was as if everyone had left the city suddenly, or had vanished without even having time to put out the teapots on the fire or the television croaking white noise from some nearby house. It was all terribly surreal.

I noticed with a hint of horror that the sky seemed even clearer than usual, a cartoon blue, and that it seemed to expand above me like a sphere of polished glass. After a while I saw that on the tiny white plastic rods of the flags there were no longer the beloved waving banners, but bizarre little creatures, chirping as if they had no problem in the world, as if the whole street had not suddenly evaporated . I approached cautiously, trying not to scare them.

They were tiny buntings, little birds smaller than my fist, striped yellow and black, like pot-bellied sparrows. I recognized them because as a child they always appeared in my father’s birdwatching books, on the one page he always kept open in his study. Here, scattered throughout the neighbourhood there was an indefinite amount of these buntings, small and chirping like chicks.

I felt that there was something inherently wrong with it all, a cry formed in my throat, and when I could no longer hold it back, when it had reached its limit and was overflowing from the throat, here: the birds in unison rose in flight and exploded in a cloud of blood-coloured glitter.

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