|Studley (or Marge)|
Last year things didn't go well. They showed up on schedule and moved in the bassinet and took turns popping in and out, but we never heard any peeping and no one ever brought in grubs. When we were absolutely sure we wouldn't mess things up for anybody--around Christmas--Dave took a look inside and found some punctured eggs. We were very sad and hoped this year they wouldn't have moved to a better neighborhood. But they didn't. They scouted it out in March and started moving stuff in toward the end of April. By May two chickadees were definitely living in the box. One would stay in and the other would go for take-out.
Chickadee puppies should fledge and fly away about sixteen days from hatching. And this time I was going to see it, because I was spending so much time in that chair. Would they arrow through the canopy and stick their landings like mom and dad? Or blast out like plumb-bobs? Did I need to string up a net?
Now they're fast and furious. The chickadees had a flappity-flap signaling system to prevent them from banging into each other at the entrance. You first. No, you. I got a purchase on my second scene and hammered my way toward 9,000 words. The peeping inside the box began to sharpen up, genuine dees without the chicka. I anticipated fledging day on Friday the 8th of June. But that day the grubs kept coming; one of the parents was now augmenting the menu with bug-and-suet sandwiches. By twilight my novel may as well have been rolling off God's fax machine. I was up to 13,800 words, one for every grub that had been poked into that hole. And still no fledglings had come out.
I finished the first two major scenes in my novel and didn't know exactly how to approach the next part. I sat down the next day and stared out the window. The chickadees were gone. I don't know if they all flew out when I was farting around on Facebook or what. They were gone. And my screen was blank. And I thought the same exact thought you all are having right now: shit. I just wrote myself into an O. Henry story.
|Marge (or Studley)|
That, I thought, was the way a short story should be. But modern short stories aren't like that. They may turn on the last line, but it might be just a slight turn, more like a facial tic. I keep flipping the page, wondering where the rest of the story is. They peter out. That's what they do. It would be like if I wrote a blog post and it just sort of, you know, whatever.
But this may not be the end of my story, or my novel. Chickadees sometimes get enough gumption to haul in a new mattress and start a second brood. That's what I hear. So I've got my eyes peeled for Round Two. If one of my birds comes back with a glint in his eye and a furniture jones, I'm back in business.