The Birdcatchers Return

A story begins with the first few words about something that happened, often given with some context and preparation, maybe some moves to telegraph the framing. In life things aren’t so simple. When can something begin? A broken wrist might begin with jumping off a roof, which itself begins with climbing up the wall, which comes from a dare by a friend that only happened because that morning, his brother beat him up for stealing his watch to impress his friends. In life, a story doesn’t begin until after the conclusion.

It was late in May, a clear blue sky was just starting to creep from indigo and pink behind trees that, once upon a time, were just saplings not-yet-ready to stand against the wind. Eric, the boy’s name was Eric, was watching the sunrise from his bed in the midlands of suburbia. It was the most important day for two reasons: it was the only tenth birthday a boy gets to have and it was the first birthday he could remember that his father was going to attend.

He watched the sun glow behind those trees and shoot out thin ribbons of light that seemed to wrap the scene in golden bows for him to unravel. Normally, he would never be up this early but he needed to make a good impression so his mother would let him have a father over again and again.

The blue shirt he got for Christmas, the one with the robot breakdancing on it, and those brown pants with the weird ridges he couldn’t stand, but his mother always made him wear on special occasions, and his socks with the turtles fighting on the side: perfect. He admired himself in the mirror that was left in the corner of his room along with an old exercise machine and the Christmas decorations that never got put away.

He was short for his age, just barely taller than the girls in his class and a few inches shorter than his best friend who, a few weeks ago, broke his wrist jumping off the school gymnasium. He wasn’t allowed to come to the party this afternoon, and when Eric found out, he cried for hours. Even his mother couldn’t convince his friends’ parents to let him come.

Eric felt, for the first time in his young life, true pride. His hair was cut just yesterday, his clothes were clean and truly; this was going to be the best birthday ever.

Down the hall, he heard his mother on the phone. she was angry. “I don’t care June, he’s a fucking wreck. Did you see those glasses at the hearing? God, what kind of example is he going to set when he shows up drunk? He’s a fucking tragedy! No, June, I don’t think you should let Michael come over. It doesn’t matter, it’s just another fucking birthday. He’ll forget.”

Michael was his friend! His mother told him he wasn’t allowed to come over because his parents were mad at him! Eric felt like his insides turned to ice. He started to cry. His mother heard him and turned. Her face went red and the corners of her mouth fell farther still.

“Eric, what the fuck do you think you’re-!”

Deleted. Next Scene.

>|

The balloons were blue and gold; his favourite since he took that trip to the aquarium when he was six and his father held his hand while he pet the whale. There were dinosaurs on the chairs, the windows, and even the ground, all frozen between roar-and-thunder. The terrified birds kept their distance, safe in the trees.

Eric looked at his shoes; they looked so nice this morning but now they just made him feel sad. He didn’t like it so he played with his friends for a little while, laughing half as much as he could but twice as much as he felt, so he was coming out ahead. The air smelled like hotdogs and ketchup chips and he knew that the kids who lived just over the fence who always teased him about his house were jealous. Who wouldn’t be? He didn’t know what the big deal was about his house, it was like any other except

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-one time! Now he just kept his bike behind the car, where it was harder to see.

“Hey champ!” The voice was unmistakable; so much a part of him that when he talked to himself, that was the voice that talked back. He spun around and there he was.

“Dad!” Eric ran over and jumped into his father’s arms. He could see his own smile reflected in the sunglasses twice, making him feel like he was twice as happy as he was already. “You made it!” He hugged him; his father smelled like his truck, which is to say smoke and oil and something else…

“Sorry I couldn’t get you anything sport, but don’t worry; I’ll find something for you real soon!” He had a crooked smile that went higher on his left than his right. They wrestled in the grass for a few minutes while his mother smoked and frowned, like every time they were together.

Next Scene.

>|

He was sitting at the table in the yard with his friends; about half the people he invited showed up but it was ok. Everyone was full of dogs and junk food and grape soda and ready to explode with the sort of energy only youth can ever really manage. They all started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and he could smell the unmistakable aroma of smoke and frosting: his mother was bringing the cake out!

She stepped from the backdoor and the dim kitchen into the dazzling sunlight-dappled yard with a stegosaurus cake. His father was sitting right next to him; everything was corruption detected. Was his father beside him, or was he inside…? No, he was sitting corrupted detected, and he helped cut the cake but he wasn’t and he was half-done a slice, but then his mother was bringing the cake out. The kids were singing but he heard fragment missing shouting inside. He was in the kitchen and his mother was screaming at his father, but that was impossible; he was sitting outside, opening fragment missing green-wrapped presents. The police showed up and grabbed his father and he got a new game for his Nintendo that he’d corruption detected the police were putting handcuffs on his father and fragment missing

“-never see him again! Yeah? Fuck you too, Walt! You’re a shitty father and-!”

 

fragment missing Eric was crying in his room while his mother drank, but that wasn’t different from any other day.

|<< Previous.

He was sitting at the table in the yard with his friends; about half the people he invited showed up but it was ok. Everyone was full of dogs and junk food and grape soda and ready to explode with the sort of energy only youth can ever really manage. They all started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and he could smell the unmistakable aroma of smoke and frosting: his mother was bringing the cake out!

|<< Previous.

He was sitting at the table in the yard with his friends; about half the people he invited showed up but it was ok. Everyone was full of dogs and junk food and grape soda and ready to explode with the sort of energy only youth can ever really manage. They all started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and he could smell the unmistakable aroma of smoke and frosting: his mother was bringing the cake out!

|<< Previous.

By Mainebot

Old, bitter man made better only by little bits of oil-like language made languid; buy a letter, even a vowel, loose a low arrow always aimed at voluminous alliterated love.