Anxiety Returns in the Form of Birdsong

It returns at dawn, hours after you wake. Sunlight through the attic window, signalling an end to your hibernation.
 
An owl is first, from the woods behind your house. A pulsating reminder of the owls you have outlived and the many more to follow. You align your breathing with its pattern, slow and predictable. Hold your breath for longer than comfortable, letting nature guide your meditation.
 
Birdsong follows and fills the space. Pouring in through the open attic window. Infinite chirps and overlapping voices, all demanding your attention. Thousands of mini breaths per second, a clarity failing to settle.
 
A woodpecker is next, hammering its message on every tree you can remember.
 
The buzz of a phone call from the bedside table, most probably work. During this absence you learn of the birdsong. How they copy adults in the same way as humans. How they mimic accents and adapt pitch over time.
 
You wish to join their song, but your voice box is wrong, missing vital parts.
 
Try as you might, you sound too human.
 
***
 
The birdsong pauses. A brief and tantalising silence, bringing the present into focus. You question yourself and listen hard for the constants. The distant rumble, overlapping memories, stars collapsing overhead. You wonder if it’s a myth. If you could close your eyes and slip through time. Return to a younger version of you who dreams of your future self.
 
***
 
Downstairs is the sound or routine. A knocking on the bedroom door, the kids wanting to say hello, wanting to say goodbye for the day. During this absence you learn of the humans and their song. How they learn from the birds, adapting their behaviour to function within chaos.
 
You stretch your wings under the sheets, flightless and extinct. missing vital parts.
 
And then it returns, the birdsong. Accompanied by a dog barking next door. A car alarm from somewhere on the estate, and the sound of commuters returning to work.
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Younger than records will show

It will be our secret, deep at the bottom of the reservoir. We will meet the others, the boys from town. Buy alcohol with fake identification, from a shopkeeper who has already seen the end of days. Cider sweet and nostalgic, as we go to the water park, where dusk will paint us with mosquitoes and laughter. And many years from now they will find us, when the reservoir is dry. They will find us and our fake identities, and finally treat our bodies as adults.

***

A version of this story recently appeared on Paragraph Planet

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How to Pack a Suitcase with Zero Baggage

“Packing a suitcase is easy. Keeping to the essentials, less so.

I have something new on Spelk today. It’s called ‘How to Pack a Suitcase with Zero Baggage’

https://spelkfiction.com/2019/09/13/how-to-pack-a-suitcase-with-zero-baggage/

Good for the Garden

“Good for the garden, my father says.

His skin prickles, raindrops on the window reflecting his anxiety.

Good for your father, my mother says. Behind his back, whispering it to me as we watch him fidget.”

My story, “Good for the Garden” can be found over at Ellipsis Zine.

http://www.ellipsiszine.com/good-for-the-garden-by-paul-thompson/

Obscured Under a Low Sun

The sun is low, obscuring figures on the pedestrian crossing.

You look up from your phone as they come into focus, slam the brakes hard.

Bam.

You open your eyes at the wheel. A sensation of waking up.

Is this a dream?

Your phone bleeps, answering your question. You approach the same crossing. Everything replays. You slam the brakes hard.

Bam.

Towards the crossing once more, into the low sun.

To wake is to escape this loop, but in the safety of the dream car, no one gets hurt, and everyone gets to keep their limbs.

***

This 100 word story first appeared on the The Drabble

Pool Party

“She reaches the house at dusk, unfashionably late for the party.

The venue is illuminated and noisy. As she approaches the front door a cocktail glass is thrown from above, shattering on the driveway behind her. Laughter comes from the rooftop terrace, followed by further objects that all miss her as she walks.”

My story, “Pool Party” can be found over at The Cabinet Of Heed.

https://cabinetofheed.com/2018/02/01/pool-party-paul-thompson/

In The Shadow of the Sound Tower

“The sound tower is silent, abandoned in the dunes, windswept and dated. Conditions are calm, nullifying its function. On still days like these, the tower finds itself a relic.”

My story, “In The Shadow of the Sound Tower” can be found over at The Cabinet Of Heed.

In The Shadow of the Sound Tower – Paul Thompson