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A Conversation Among Birds
By Enzo Stephens
“So what did you do?” Kaw was intensely curious over this development.
Caw ducked her head under her wing, jamming her thin beak between an obnoxiously itchy juncture of feathers. She flexed her feet on the branch the two occupied together. “Well, I ate it, of course.”
Kaw was thunderstruck by her nonchalance. “What do you mean ‘you ate it’?”
“What is wrong with you? It’s easy food. And their food tastes a hell of a lot better than these shitty mosquitos anymore. I think these mosquitos are eating something they shouldn’t be eating.”
“Yes, but it’s… human food,” Kaw said with a disgusted hush as if a human would hear the comment, AND understand it, AND give a shit. Humans don’t understand bird-speak.
“Don’t be a dolt!” Caw snapped. “Food is food and a full belly is better than the alternative.”
Kaw looked at her, then, “You don’t know what they put in their food. They’re always adding shit in there that nobody understands what it is.”
Caw stared at Kaw, fending off irritation. He can be so thick-headed! “Like I said, food is food.”
A heavy silence grew between the two scrub-jays as they perched on the tree branch, occasionally craning their heads around to dart into their feathers to ferret out some intrusive vermin. Then Caw asked, “I wonder what they’re doing over there anyway.”
Kaw added, “It has gotten much noisier lately. Does that scare you?”
“Nah. It’s just humans. They can’t fly so they can’t get us. And what’s that big shiny thing sticking up over there?”
“Who knows? Who can figure out what humans are up to? They’re always running around doing stuff. They should just learn to hang out and enjoy the warm air, like us.”
Caw pointed her beak up, then back to Kaw, a cute little habit of hers that she liked to do just before asking him anything of importance. “You’re still pissed that I ate their food, aren’t you?”
Kaw ducked his head. “Nah. I just care about you is all.”
“Oh bullshit! Admit it. Why can’t you admit things to me?”
“There’s nothing to admit.”
Kaw looked up sharply. “See? Now why do you have to go and start on this shit again, huh?”
“Because you are codependent! It’s not healthy in a relationship.”
Kaw nipped at one of his feet. Then, “What are you, some kind of psychologist or something? A freaking bird psychiatrist!”
Caw said nothing, turning away from him sharply and staring across a small expanse of lowlands to where a gigantic shiny thing rose up from the ground, and yes there were humans running about, climbing some kind of ribcage-looking thing, and there were liquids and different kinds of fog swirling around. Things did indeed look pretty busy.
“—Avian shrink! That’s pretty damned funny.”
“You’re an idiot. Now shut your beak or you can go fend for your own food.”
“I’d much rather chase after my own rather than take their food.”
Both scrub-jays looked up as loud, sharp noises rolled out from off in the distance, probably from that big shiny thing poking up from the ground. The noises sounded like…
“ten… nine… eight…”
Kaw looked at Caw, uncertainty in his eyes. “What do you think that means?”
“How the hell would I know, you codependent shmuck!”
Kaw bunched his feathers up to look menacing. Caw laughed at him. Then, “Well screw you, I’m outta here!” And with that, Kaw leapt from the branch and into the sky, leaving Caw to watch him in flight. No matter how annoyed she became with him, he was always so… majestic while in flight.
That’s what made the asshat so irresistible.
Then a massive explosion of searing heat ripped across the land, incinerating Caw and the tree she rested upon.
Kaw screamed at the skies as that same blast of heat mashed him from his flight path at the loss of Caw, and he remembered the last things he said to her and he wished he could join her.
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