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Michelle leans towards me across the table. “I obsess about death,” she confides.

I sigh. I’m familiar with the problem.

“How about you?” she says.

“I think I’m past it now, I’m getting better. I was scared out of my wits an entire year. I hated going to bed, hated that space before sleep, lying in the dark, picturing...nothing.”

Michelle nods. She breaks off a piece of croissant and plays with it. “I’m terrified.”

“Aren’t we all,” I say, “and furious, too.” I turn towards the other tables, glowering at everyone and no one.

“So what do we do?”

“Nothing,” I admit. “We go on. We thank the powers that be for pleasant days.” I lift my coffee cup and toast the sky.

Just as I put the cup down and drop my eyes, a small black and white bird hurries past. Delicate. Perfect. An unfamiliar species.

“What kind of bird is that?” I ask Michelle.

She looks around quickly. “What bird?” she says.

“It’s beautiful,” I whisper.

But it’s gone.

“Bird” was published in MacQueen’s Quinterly.


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