Long after I’ve left my own children to move back out west, I remember a morning from my childhood. My mother, sitting by the loom, the warm light from the window catching the red in her hair, tells me that my father is a bird.
“He flew away,” she told me, “somewhere south for the winter.”
I misunderstood the metaphor and at school that week I borrowed a pair of binoculars from my best friend. On Thursday morning, I feigned sickness, coughing and saying my head hurt, and my mother let me stay home. After the door had closed and the car rattled away, I took the binoculars from underneath my bed and into the living room.
All morning, I watched the maples and oaks that made up the perimeter of our yard, scanning the trees for any sign of my father. By one o’clock, I was tired and hungry. But then I saw a flash of black and yellow, like the colors on the Mustang that my father used to drive. I moved the binoculars slowly, scanning the thin limbs of the tree, and there, his fingers curled round the edge of a small branch, was my father, his chest puffed out, watching me, watching him. The moment seemed to last an eternity, and then suddenly he was gone. And I moved the binoculars up and looked at the clouds, like tiny wisps of hair or pieces of paper cut by a child, and then beyond them, to the purple haze about the foothills, searching, searching, not knowing then that I too one day would learn to fly.
Andrew Bertaina currently lives and works in Washington, DC. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: The Threepenny Review, Hobart, Literary Orphans, Fiction Southeast, Eclectica Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, Big Lucks, WhiskeyPaper, the Journal of Microliterature and elsewhere. He is currently a book reader and reviewer at Fiction Southeast.