The day the birds had their revenge we were fishing and I had done up my hair the way I’d always wanted to do it, lovely high swoops with tendrils. Nobody imagines they’ll be on vacation when the apocalypse hits.
Water lapped twice against our boat, then the currents stilled. More than a flock rose from the trees, grass, and ledges. Silent, the birds circled and unfurled what they held in their claws: a mass of plastic and metal and rope, ribbons of rubber bands and fruit rinds and cloth bags twisted and braided, styrofoam chunks and glass beads and leather strips rolled together with power cords and fishnets and crystallized honey. The mass was as big as the sky and beautiful like oil slicks on water, like hardened grease. Above us floated our daughter’s baby blanket, my mother’s tomato-stained Tupperware, our one-time bowling shoes. It grew and rose higher, rotating and reflecting light like a kaleidoscope, and I thought about my daughter, the trinkets I’d molded from cellophane and card stock for her second birthday.
Then a chickadee’s warning call, and a ripple over the horizon. The mass dropped, muffled our screams. We fought; we poked holes with our fingers but got no farther. Osprey, cormorants, and terns dove underwater to retrieve the edges while ducks gathered them, tightening the orb around us. Airplanes dropped, buses rolled, our boats clanged and clattered and broke. Hummingbirds and orioles weaved us, loose threads, together.
The other birds perched above, on the covered treetops, and preened.
An umbrella tip poked my head when I tried to look for her. Grease from Chinese takeout containers dripped onto our shoulders. Help us, I said to the birds, we’re stuck. Others continued to struggle. The mass snapped our fishing poles, sunk lower, adhered to our skin.
Sprout new feathers, they said and pulled out theirs to grow them stronger.
We can’t sprout feathers, I said, only coarse hairs when we age.
Katherine Ann Davis serves as a fiction editor for 3Elements Review and is completing a novel. Her most recent work appears online in Punchnel's and Passages North, and is forthcoming from The Pinch.