Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded

Ninety-five percent of my anxieties are unfounded. She tells me at our weekly breakfast. To focus on the genuine five percent. The following week I do so, spending ninety-five percent of my time on it. When we meet again, I know ninety-five percent of my anxieties are founded. Focus on the new five percent, she says. And so it goes on, worrying about worrying, and how to tell her I no longer enjoy our breakfasts.

***

This 75-word story first appeared on Paragraph Planet

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.