i'm walking back from the sea. it's dark and i'm sad. i think i might have lost something special.
on the hill under the orange glow of the street lights i see a man. he is large and burly and is wearing a big fluoro jacket with stripes that glow in the headlights of passing cars. his weathered hands are placed firmly on his knees as he bends down nose to beak with a black feathery creature.
"hello little bird" he says.
"hello little bird" he says again.
stiffly he straightens and begins to plod up the hill. i move silently into his space and look down at this stock-still taxidermy blackbird perched on the pavement. i hold his gaze for a minute. nothing happens. he stares unnervingly back at me. i crouch forward and move closer. i see the orange night reflected in his wide orange-rimmed eyes. i draw forward very close and watch his chest rise and fall. but still he doesn't move. his tail is splayed out at a strange angle and i wonder what's happened to him.
my sadness envelops me. i'm not thinking straight. i must save him. i run home fast. not knowing what i plan to do i grab some gardening gloves and the tea towel i don't like. my heart is racing.
what if he hops into the road?
what if i lose the special thing?
will he be alive when i get back?
why did i go home?
if i save him will i save the special thing?
i run back, gloves flapping, the tea towel i don't like bundled under my arm. i look down the hill and i see him in the road by the kerb. a car whistles by missing him by a few inches, his feathers blown flat against his back by the speed. a larger van is approaching and he is in line with the front wheel. i stare into the driver's eyes so he can see me and step into the side of the road. the van curves wide of us. i grab the bird in my gloved hands and feel his little heart quiver.
i have him
i hold him
he is not lost.
i walk up to the station and onto a piece of shadowy dark wasteland. i put him down gently by some abandoned pots and leave him for the night. i think at least he'll die on the earth surrounded by plants. maybe a cat will kill him but that feels like a more natural death than being run over and flattened on the road.
the next day i think about him. i go to a friend's house and there is a dead female blackbird in her garden. i think about him lying where i left him. i don't want to go and see him dead.
the day after that i'm on my way to truro. i walk up to the station not sure if i want to see his body. i begin to turn away but i look back. just quickly. and he's still there. still standing. he's puffed out and in a huddle. i go up to him but he doesn't open his eyes. he's still breathing but i don't know if he's sleeping or on the edge of death. my train arrives and i jump on. part of me wants to go back. i don't know what to do. i didn't expect him to survive that long. i'm worried about leaving him in the sun but there's water on the ground around him so he can drink. now i feel responsible for him. what do i do? i contact some friends. various suggestions. bring him to the garden to die with the already dead female blackbird. my friend thinks they might have been lovers! another friend tells me the rspb advises to wring his neck. i know it's the sensible thing but i can't bring myself to do that. what if i kill the special thing too?
i think about the options while i visit an exhibition in an old coffin store. it had a former life as a socialist meeting house and all the roof beams are beautifully stenciled with socialist slogans. i slip on some headphones and listen to a video called 'the darkest place i know'. i feel my sadness. i wonder if he's still alive. should i have left him? i look at more art. there's a series of collaborative portraits of 10 famous people who have attempted to take their lives. and 10 portraits of people who did. i feel the darkness.
i return home. i haven't made a decision. maybe he'll be dead. i walk up to where i left him. he's not there. he's gone. i search for his body all around but i can't find him anywhere. i feel relief that i don't have to kill him. but where is he? has a cat helped me do what i couldn't bring myself to do? but then why didn't this happen before? could he possibly have flown away? i don't think he could. i think it's unlikely. i don't know. but at least not knowing is open ended. and for now, that's the place i'd rather be.