A dense thud and a smear of blood left on the pane. I ask my husband to see if there is an injured bird in the yard. A soft christening of springtime rain is falling.
As I am packing, I wonder what good this trip will be; what good will it do us to spend our anniversary three towns over where the weather will be the same; the trees will have the same foliage; the flowers blooming there will be the same ones blooming here.
I open the hall closet and a cascade of winter hats, mittens, scarves, a tennis racket, assails me. When did we last play tennis, I ask myself? A vision, both painful and lovely, a tangle of tanned limbs, salty flesh; struggling with my tennis skirt. Naked from the waist down save shoes and socks. Were we those lovers?
Jacob, watery-eyed, stands in the hallway, his hands cupped as if receiving communion. I take a tentative step toward him; there is a sparrow in his hands. The bird’s eyes are closed but its chest is visibly rising and falling.
Oh Jacob, I say.
Help, he implores me.
He carries the sparrow to the kitchen and places it upon the counter. I brush a fingertip over its downy breast and feel the tiny heartbeat.
Jacob apologizes for crying. He apologizes for the injured bird. He apologizes for needing help.
Jacob, I whisper. I look at my broken husband and the wounded bird. Whom can I save?
I turn my attention to the sparrow.
It looks like a Lladro figurine, plumy with a slight sheen. I can hear the slightest coo, as if the bird is whispering some self -healing incantation. Jacob brings me a small cup of water and a sponge, which I dip and then gently press over the bird’s beak, its feathered throat.
The sparrow’s eyes fly open.
Jesus, I say and drop the sponge, backing away. The sparrow hops up on its little feet, grabbing purchase atop of a roll of paper towels. Spreading its wings, it flies straight from the kitchen, down the hall and out the open front door just as the rain has stopped.
My husband is ecstatic. In a voice unfamiliar, light as the down of a new chick, he tells me we have witnessed a good omen.
I’m ready for the weekend now, he says as he practically bounces from the room.
I remain, blink as the eerie after-rain sun streams through the kitchen windows. Jacob saw wings and flight. I saw something else. A sparrow with blue eyes, eyes the color of forget-me-nots; the color of the blanket wrapped around our stillborn child; the color we have lived in for 18 months.
I wipe down the counter, wash my hands. I take my multi-vitamin, find Jacob’s antidepressants and fish-oil supplements. I pack these into a sturdy, zippable pouch. Putting the pouch into my purse, I find a lens wipe. I am wiping, wiping, wiping my glasses, just hoping I will be able to see more clearly. I am still wiping, wiping, wiping my glasses as we drive to the town three towns over, where the trees have the same foliage as those at home, where the flowers blooming are the same as the flowers in our yard.
A version of this story, under the title The Color of My Love, was published, both in print and online, in NJ Indy magazine May 2023. Please find a print copy by visiting http://www.njindy.com.