Volume 5 Number 2
Magpie sat as high as he could in the bare sycamore tree, a shiny soul dangling from his beak. He couldn't go any higher. The old man had clipped one of his wings.
Around the black bird, the trees were alive with color. Reds. Oranges. Golds. Only here in this tree, above this house, did he sit naked before the world. He wanted to cry out but feared losing his shiny prize.
The tree had been a vibrant yellow when he'd swooped down this morning. Through the leaves, through the red roof, white ceilings, and blue duvet, he could see her silvery soul. The old woman was luminous, ripe. The old man curled around her, cradling her head. She whispered in his ear. The old man looked up and then disappeared into another room. Magpie eased off the branch and glided downward through the roof and through the walls until he rested by the old woman's pillow. She smiled and held out her hand. Her soul came easily.
I knew you'd be coming.
The old man stood there with something sparkly dangling from his hand.The black bird couldn't help being fascinated, if just for a moment.
He heard a snip, and there was pain. Unexpected pain. He almost dropped his prize.
The old man held hedge clippers in his hand. The blades shone like mirrors.
Magpie tore himself away. His prize outshone mere metal. He willed his way back through the walls onto the neatly manicured lawn outside. He hopped through a bed of withering begonias to a little seat for two under the sycamore. He hadn't noticed the yard before. A stone path wove through a quilt of fading flowers.
The old man came puffing up the path.
Give her back.
The black bird flapped his way up the branches of the sycamore. Leaves fell around the old man as he sank to his knees by the love seat.
We haven't planted the daffodils yet.
The old man sobbed.
The black bird could go no higher. With a cry of sorrow, Magpie let his prize fall into the old man's callused hands. He cupped her tightly so her quicksilver soul could not evaporate into the crisp fall air, and he planted her in a small hole in the daffodil bed.
Before he flew away, Magpie watched the old man pat the dirt firmly over his prize. Her soul shone dimly under the warm brown blanket of earth. The black bird would return in the spring to reap what had been sown.
Bio: Angie Smibert's work has appeared (or will soon) in Crimson Highway,Whim's Place, Flashshot, Appalachian Heritage, Jackhammer, Eternity, Cosmic Landscapes, and several other magazines.