This is part of the short story Carry On that is being posted a chapter at a time, Monday October 3rd through Friday October 7th. This is the first chapter, titled Monday.
There were four birds sitting on the car when Joe looked out the window that morning. He had skipped his coffee and went straight to the sink to push back the curtain. They looked at him, as though they had been there all morning, just waiting for the curtain to move. He walked outside and waved his arms wildly at the car, trying to quietly chase the birds away. One took off immediately, two more fled when Joe was only a few feet away, but one remained, unfazed. It spread its massive wings as they both stood, stock still, neither willing to make the first move. Finally, with a hiss, the bird caved in and launched itself unceremoniously into the sky. Joe’s eyes followed it for a moment before his entire body went ridged. His mind went blissfully blank as his body stiffened, shook, and then collapsed.
Not much time had passed, the sun was still low in the sky and the air held onto the early morning chill. At first Joe thought he was still in bed and had dreamt the whole weird scene with the birds. Maybe it had all been a dream and he would find himself snuggled up with Lisa, both of them wishing for just a few more hours in bed together.
When he turned his head to look at the clock on his nightstand (next to Lisa’s picture), the pain brought him back to reality. He was still in his front yard, shielded from the street by a row of arborvitaes and trees that he had never known the name of. The front yard was mostly secluded. He could have laid there for days and no one would have noticed. Slowly he sat up and felt around his head. His fingers came away clean. Once he was satisfied that he wasn’t badly injured, and wouldn’t fall back down, he rose up and headed back inside the house.
His vision warped in and out on him but he made it back to the bedroom without further incident. From the safety of his bed he used his cell phone to call the office and let them know that he was coming down with something and wouldn’t make it in today. Squeezing his eyes closed he tried to make his head stop swimming. The pain in his throat had also returned but it was nothing compared to the burning in his stomach. Rolling onto his side he laid in his bed staring at the photo of Lisa. Outside there was a click click click but he ignored it. He watched her until his eyes gave out and eventually closed.
Once he was asleep the dreams came. At first they were pleasant. They were of the two of them when they first started dating. The memories that they consisted of were not real, the events had not actually taken place. They had never stayed in a cabin on a lake, yet that’s where the dreams took him. The two of them sitting on a dock at sunset, watching as deer came out from the woods and down to the water to take a drink. Lisa’s head on Joe’s shoulder, the two of them sitting n happy silence. The birds were flying overhead and into the distance. Their silhouettes against the sun, casting shadows over the water, gentle chirping fading with the light.
In his room, Joe tossed and turned. No chirping had followed through his dreams, but there were birds here as well. Through the window came the soft flapping of wings on the wind and the occasional scraping as the birds touched down outside the house. Click click click. Their numbers grew as Joe slumbered on. He and Lisa, together once more, in his dreams.
The end of chapter three.
Click here to read chapter four, Thursday.
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