Something compelled the little brown sparrow to drop from the sky and enter the glade. It swooped down and down and down to light onto the gnarled branch lying in the grass. Another bird, a blue jay, was already resting further along its twisted length and turned its head at the new arrival.
“Oh, good morning,” it said.
“Hello,” said the sparrow. “It’s going to be a beautiful day – The sun is so bright.”
The blue jay sounded solemn as it nodded its blue head and said, “We’re lucky to be here to feel its touch.”
The sparrow watched the blue bird, admiring its brilliant feathers. A moment later it turned and began grooming its own feathered stomach with its little beak in order to make itself more beautiful too.
After a while they turned their attention to watch the sun singing the tops of the apple trees in the east, and then crawl its way slowly into the sky overhead.
The blue jay began to sing a song and the sparrow, listening and admiring its melancholy beauty, joined in.
Their voices filled the glade like the sunlight.
“The flies will be here soon,” observed the blue jay. “Here’s one now.”
The sparrow followed where the jay looked. Indeed, just beside them, a fat bluebell had landed on the human lying crumpled in the grass and flowers, rubbing its legs together earnestly where it perched along the edge of the immense raw crater where the animal’s face had once been. The fly’s buzzing was very excited in the quiet glade as it stayed a moment in the red meat there, feasting its fill before moving with a flash to a place on the opposite side of the gaping hole where the blue skin looked cold even in the warm morning sun.
“Yes,” said the sparrow, feeling a sudden sorrow in its heart. “Yes, I see him.” A subtly rancid smell had entered the glade and diluted the vibrant green smell of the apples and flowers, and seemed to grow more pungent every moment passing.
“Let’s leave this place,” advised the blue jay. “Let’s put ourselves in the sky where nothing can touch us.”
The sparrow had never before been invited to fly with a blue jay, and the invitation filled it with pride. It felt beautiful, and welcomed, and safe.
Together they lifted from the branch, away from the quiet dell, and up and up and up into the clear clean sky.
Alexander Zelenyj is the author of the short story collections Songs For The Lost (Eibonvale Press, 2014; digital edition: Independent Legions Publishing, 2016) and Experiments At 3 Billion A.M. (Eibonvale Press, 2009); the poetry and essay collection, Ballads To The Burning Twins: The Complete Song Lyrics Of The Deathray Bradburys (Eibonvale Press, 2014); and the novel, Black Sunshine(Fourth Horseman Press, 2005). His fiction has appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies – for a more comprehensive bibliography please feel free to visit his website at alexanderzelenyj.com.