Melissa R. Mendelson
Little brown birds covered sidewalks and streets, their legs tucked beneath them, and their wings broken but still covering their heads. They squeezed their eyes shut while their bodies shook. Cries slipped out through open beaks. The sound was petrifying.
The commuter bus rattled like a broken radiator. As it rattled, the world flashed past the windows. Passengers were asleep in their seats, their heads hung downward, but some of them were awake. The rattling tried to drown out the chirping sound coming from the headphones and cell phones. It reminded me of those birds.
“Is that a bird?” The woman across from me sat up in her seat. “Where’d it come from?”
A little brown bird rested near my leg. It seemed content. A moment later, it hopped onto my hand. It avoided my gaze, taking in its surroundings, and then it looked at me. And my blood ran cold.
The rattling of the bus turned into brakes screeching. The passengers and I lurched forward in our seats. The bird tilted its head and opened its beak, but it didn’t make a sound. We lurched again as the bus moved forward, and a breeze slipped in through an open window. The little brown bird stretched out its wings and quickly disappeared outside.
The woman across from me let out a scream as she curled into a ball. The other passengers did the the same. Even the bus driver screamed, but all I heard were the cries of those birds.