by | Jun 11, 2024 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Nine

The mother did not set the owl free, but she would have. The mother pictures herself scaling the park gate after hours, black top and pants, black beanie, wirecutters in her back pocket. When the mother was a child, she rage-patrolled her small street, yelling at every car that passed: Did you kill my cat? The cars never stopped. The people never answered.

The mother walks. It’s what she does now, instead of sleeping. Her last pair of sneakers worn treadless, heels receding to shiny nubs. She walks early mornings, walks at twilight, the blue hour, when the light reflecting off windows becomes extraterrestrial. She looks for long purples, for the green flash. She’s read about the green flash but never seen it. She looks for the owl. She has seen the owl. They are a tribe, the owl watchers. They share sightings: on parapets, on fire escapes, on scaffolding outside building sites. Once she saw him in flight, a long tail hanging from his mouth. Seeing the owl fly made the imaginary wirecutters in her pocket spin and snap, made her want to cut every cage in every zoo in the world.

The mother doesn’t join the gathering at the tree in the park, where children leave crayon drawings of owls, huge basketball eyes, triangle beaks. The mother has had enough of funerals.

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