Tangerine

 

 

 

This story first appeared in print in Ellipsis Zine. Enough time has passed that I thought I would share it on my blog.

Once a month at midnight, a redbird with wings like circus tents landed at 17 Riverstone Way. Tonight, it stood still on the lawn. Inside the home, Megan’s withdrawn face was pressed against the bedroom window.

 

They talked through the screen. Megan told her about school, how lunch was her favorite subject. Cynthia laughed like a cherry bomb, told her that eating pizza was better than pecking on rocks tossed by that boy three towns over. 

 

“Why don’t you just eat him? You’re big enough to do it,” Megan asked, her finger tracing circles in breath fog on the glass above.

 

“He’s just confused. I don’t hurt people, Megan. You know that.”

 

“Sorry. You’re a good bird.”

 

“And you’re a wonderful girl. Everybody says so.”

 

“Except them,” she said, pointing her thumb backwards. “They don’t say anything nice. Sometimes I wish I was a can of beer.” 

 

Cynthia tilted her head. “I think it’s time. You ready?”

 

“I don’t want to hear them yelling again. Let’s go.” She stepped through the window, climbed inside her friend’s golden beak.

 

They flew as one above snowcaps, rain forests, and oceans, eventually descending into a sweet-scented oasis called Tangerine. Megan caught everything at the same time, her walnut eyes darting from rejuvenated kids riding atop elephants and giraffes to glaciers made of vanilla cupcakes to flowing streams of bubbling cream soda.

 

“Go on now,” said Cynthia. “We only have a few hours before the sun wakes up and we fly back. Sing, play, do whatever you can’t do at home. I’ll be over here eating rocks.”

 

Megan’s laugh mimicked birdsong as she ran through a vibrant valley choked with marshmallow trees, popsicle flowers, and honey bees the size of grandfather clocks. She ran until her feet were drowning in cool morning dew.