A hallucination

Sophie’s blonde hair was radiant in the bright sunshine. Sitting on a streetside cafe with planter boxes along the fence separating the dining from the walking, with a couple of daisies in a glass vase on a white tablecloth, blue china and bowl mugs for our lattes – this was precisely the reason for living downtown.

The waiter brought us bread and vinegar. I buttered up a bun.

“I mean, you really helped me pick up after the funeral, with the executor business. You know how much I needed this time off.”

“Ya. The student sub is brilliant. I’m happy for you.”

She licked latte foam from her lip, made a face at the destroyed leaf pattern. “Well there’s a complication.”

“Ya?”

I took another sip of the hot chocolate, dusky and sweet.

“Jordan’s has sent a head hunter for me. Put aside the fact that someone is head hunting me for a second – the offer is fabulous. Closer to home, more assistance in the office, same hours as I just swayed…”

A bird swept down in the corner of my eye. Close. The hot chocolate was almost too hot, the milk scalded. Probably order the latte next time.

 “It sounds great. What’s giving you pause?”“I feel too guilty – I only just got the extra time off at Matley’s. I fought hard for that.”

“But someone else has more – you can’t control the offers.”

“No, but do you think I owe them?”

“No. After all you had to,” – the sweep of the bird was almost at my head – “jeez, had to – had to pester them.” Dive. “What do they want, my bun?”

“Sorry?”

“The birds.”

“Oh, well –”

“Hey watchit!” Put my hand up to her hair. “Christ!”

“Hey!” She ducked, and I slipped and over went the vase.

The glass splintered my vision. The tinkling tiny bits of glass broke my eyes and left me trying to blink out the shards. I put my hand to my face and it’s dripping with blood and the crows are swooping down to sip and dip their beaks, getting punch drunk on my hemoglobin. Black and shiny and I can’t touch my face because it’s slippery and I’m stumbling to get up.

“Help! Help!” the crows mockingly cry.

“Stop it!” I’m dizzy and the sky is black and blue, and the cafe throbs like a heart pulse.

“Can’t hear you!” they tone, squawking and laughing as they crunch the glass into pieces with their monstrous claws.

I step backwards and hit a table, stumble, fall. Crash! glass falls elsewhere and far away and with the deafening shriek a thousand mile high pitched crinkle I throw my hands to my ears, to find them huge and throbbing. The air turns black and the crows are advancing with giggles and laughter to drink my blood, until they blend into the atmosphere, disappearing with a final shimmer of feathers.

 

“It sounds great. What’s giving you pause?”“I feel too guilty – I only just got the extra time off at Matley’s. I fought hard for that.”

“But someone else has more – you can’t control the offers.”

“No, but do you think I owe them?”

“No. After all you had to,” he paused and ducked with a flinch. “Jeez, had to – had to pester them.” Flinch. “What do they want, my bun?”

“Sorry?” What?

“The birds.”

“Oh, well –” Um.

“Hey watchit!” He raised his hand as if to slap me. “Christ!”

“Hey!” I ducked, and his supporting hand slipped on the tablecloth. His elbow caught the vase. As he tripped on the table, he knocked our bread basket to the ground, while the vase smashed on the stone. He couldn’t catch his balance and landed hard on his hip in the glass. His hands caught some shards and he looked at them with surprise. A few pigeons and a crow swarmed down to the crumbs amidst the glass and began pecking away.

In a daze he felt his face for wounds, leaving a couple of smears of blood.

“Help!” I cried, waving down our waiter, who dashed madly for the first aid kit.

He growled something, facing off the birds, swatting them off the bread as he stood.

“I can’t hear you, love, what’s wrong?”

He stepped backwards from my advance and tripped over the empty table adjacent to ours. Down went the next vase and setting plates as I began to really worry about the damage he was causing.

He clapped his hands over his ears at the smashing sound, hunching down.

He tipped over on his side with a moan. A bird hopped towards the crumbs at his outstretched fingers and chirped. He closed his eyes, and I called the ambulance.

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