Tommy ran into the house, and the backyard was quiet again. The gun felt cold in my hand. I dropped it on the ground. I paused for several seconds, awaiting a cue of some sort, but one didn’t come.

I walked over to the corner where the bird had fallen. One eye was still open, and it had the same troubled face it had after I’d shot it. I could see the BB–sized wound in its chest. And the one in its neck. No blood flowed from either.

I dug a hole with my hands in a shady spot. I gently picked up the bird, rested it in my makeshift grave, and covered it with the chilled soil.

The air didn’t feel warm anymore.

I didn’t wait for Tommy to return. I didn’t even want to see him. I hid the gun behind the stack of apple boxes where spiders had strewn webs between the wall and the wood. I shook the silken threads from my dirt–streaked fingers and jumped over the cinderblock wall into the alley between the houses. I didn’t want to be seen leaving through the front.

And all the way home I hid from passing cars. I didn’t want to be seen, or caught, for I didn’t know what would happen to me, or who knew. I thought of the bird right after I’d shot it. I thought of how it remained perched on the wire despite the pain it must have felt. I remembered now that it looked proud – and beautiful. And I wondered why we did such things to birds.

Story by Daniel Gardina
Art by Heather Dean
Published in Book by Authors, 2006