Denied Passage

A cardinal sits in the bough of a small tree. The sky is overcast, and though thunder is loud and dark clouds advance from the southeast, the shoppers continue to flit from store to store in search of their next big find. From the top of his tree, planted in a small garden between stores, the cardinal watches. He trills a song, hears a reply, and trills again. The threat of rain does not bother him, either.

An empty store to his left has large, dark glass doors with windows to either side and above with an overhang of twisting and curling metal painted white, confined in a rectangular frame. When no birds answer his return call, the cardinal flies to the overhang. The cardinal sees behind the glass another bird looking at him.

He sings, but no bird answers. Rude. He hops atop the metal frame toward the other bird. It hops toward him at the same instant. He sings again. It sings, but he hears no song. He sees behind it a tree, other storefronts, and darkening clouds. Curious. He flies to his tree and looks back at the other world that looks like his own. His curiosity peaks and he flies toward the scene but is deflected. He flies at the other tree again and again, but that strange force remains–invisible and constant and hard and warm from the late spring humidity.

Rain falls, first in a sprinkle, then faster, thicker. People walking outside begin running. He can no longer remain here. He flies to the eaves of a neighboring shop moments before the downpour turns torrential. The cardinal dries his feathers and considers that strange world, where the other bird no longer sits and the tree is gone, and all he sees in the glass is darkness.

nonfiction prose Writings

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