Birds

Saturday Short: Training Day

The following is flash fiction. Check out my other Saturday Shorts here.

Training Day

Fresh air and midday sun (through glass) taunted lungs, and the mothers and fathers, settled and unsettled; the heavy eye balls; the sleepers in the stalls—all of us—sorted and slightly rocking. Our shoes and briefcases brimmed the aisles, and our mouths coughed. Blind but secure, the train rattled, and what could we do but wait. Care for a cup of tea? Anything. Just bring me anything.

Outside the corn was dead and dry. A man sat in the window seat and was careless to view any of it (us, sanctioned together by wretched fate), staring at his shoes, considering maybe, the asphalt that marked them. “You look familiar” I finally admitted as a gesture.

The musician began. He, like all else, assumed his story was worth telling, and he spoke, and I thought about the birds: free, hungry, singing, and why fly next to trains?

“—not as easy as you think, you know.” Around my age but much richer, he hated his life as much as I hated mine. I bought a few of his records, a decade ago, and once I shook his hand in a parking lot before a gig. He was an asshole.

“Why not quit?” I keep him busy, like a four-year old with a new toy. And I wonder off: free, hungry, singing.

“There’s no career fair for me. No running away. Like a monkey I’m expected…”

If listening is a skill, we must all get it wrong. The man spoke, and I couldn’t care, and when I spoke he didn’t care. Where you out of? he’d say, shortly shifting his attention a couple rows down to a partially unbuttoned blouse on an attendant who bent forward for a piece of trash. (more…)