Sometimes sitting still, disappearing, I recall the experience of Time as a child.
In the quiet living room drinking a cup of coffee before the start of a busy day I remember; I wanted to be liked, win the race, be a superhero and Lipton soup salesman like my dad. Nothing was crucial. But I could drown in the shower or die in the dark. Something was always under the bed. I believed in God and my parents and that everything would be alright. It was just my imagination.
And I was not responsible.
Just touch it. Poke it. Turn it over.
It’s just a piece of wood or stone or something like that.
I don’t think so.
Are you sure it moved?
I’m sure and you’re sure too but I know what you mean. I want to say I’m not sure but we both know. Does it scare you?
No. It’s just little. What’s it supposed to do attack us?
Then pick it up.
It skipped like a stone on water.
Yeah. I know.
They sat down one on either side of it facing the ocean which was calm as could be. Not wood stone or anything they might imagine observed their nervous sideways downward glances. Only moments before the walking talking laughing shoving handholding not holding teens had been startled by the impetuous thing’s decision to skip make a move hurl herself seven long clearly visible self-propelled skips to catch their attention. An unusual occurrence for all involved.
An older couple stepped off a distant boardwalk and headed in their direction the man several steps in front of the woman. His voice rising and falling one arm waving the other gesturing with conviction head shaking sandals slipping in the loose sand muttering cursing red faced raging at someone something somewhere. She said nothing. Oblivious. They were almost on top of the young pair before he noticed and stopped abruptly momentarily taken off guard and aback. Beach walkers are usually courteous exchange quick friendly smiles greetings carry on. Not so as he regarded these two with scorn. The girl in her ragged wooly sweater rubber boots on a dry day and long black bangs in her eyes. The boy was it a boy or thing with all the rings and rods piercing his skin like a heathen blue tattoo serpent wrapped around his scrawny arm. The not so gentleman quaked sputtered began to speak stopped mid sentence brushed the air as if to dismiss them then chased down the beach behind the receding woman his voice rising and falling.
The two teens looked at one another and rolled their eyes. She waved uttered peace out dad saluted and burst out laughing. They got up and brushed the sand off. He kissed her she wrapped an arm around his waist changed her mind gave him a shove bolted down the beach and he went tumbling after.
Hours passed interrupted only by the momentary spectacle of shifting hues pink purple red golden orange going going gone darkness settling in for the night. Sometime in the very early morning a sound sort of like crickets but more like birdsong broke the salt marsh silence filled the world for a moment and finally skipped home.
I was standing at the kitchen counter opening a tin of naturally smoked Kipper Snacks for myself and Charlene when we were startled by a loud, sharp rapping on the window. Rat-tat-tat. Rat-a-tat-tat. Rat-tat-tat. It was the kind of racket a sapsucker makes on a metal roof. Except this was thin glass inches from my nose. I could hear but see nothing. I looked at Charlene who returned the puzzled look, tilted her head, cocked an ear, summoned a growl, stood and began to bark. This at exactly the moment thin lines began spreading like a webbed fuse through the windowpane igniting an explosion of glass. Now Charlene was barking furiously. The panicked commotion of a large bird trapped indoors banging against walls and ceiling filled the room. But only sound. No bird. All at once the dog stopped. The flapping settled. Ghost bird. How is this possible? It’s high noon on a bright sunny day in an entirely unhaunted house in simple world far away from anything unusual. One flap. Two flap. Flap flap on the fridge. Muffled growl from good girl good girl its okay good girl. We look at one another wondering what the flap flutter flap is happening when the fridge motor kicks on and the room returns to mayhem.
I stop. Overcome. The great whir of being with a mild tremor and shutter shuts down. Charlene is rearing frantic now. Somewhere I know she is barking. Small jars cups saucers and dry starfish are flying off the ledge and shelves, framed pictures tilt on the walls one falls hits the floor more broken glass. Then I tilt slide crumble fold onto the tiles and know that it is over. Charlene lays down beside me head between her paws. I see the bird now. An ivory billed woodpecker. Extinct we think but refuse to believe. Putting faith in unconfirmed sightings and empty handed expeditions. She sits on the windowsill surveying the damage then returns from whence she came.