The Pigeon

There were pigeons outside his window, again. He could see the soft green and pink beneath the sheen of their feathers.

The toaster oven spit out two browned slices of whole grain bread. He opened the fridge and pulled out the jar of strawberry jam. He grabbed a knife from the drawer, the one to the left of the sink, and proceeded to spread the thick fruit onto each piece of toast. He placed the toast onto a small plate and turned on the stove, shifting the kettle to the proper burner.

The window was light blue where its wood didn’t show through. He stood there, waiting for the water to boil. He counted the pigeon shit on the sill.

After finishing his tea, he placed the mug in the sink and cinched his scarf around his neck, stepping out into the city and the chill fall air. He began walking. This was his route, to the left, past the nail salon and the Chinese takeout restaurant. He liked the trees, especially now. His feet crunched on leaves, and he smiled. He picked one up and rubbed it through his fingers until it was gone.

By the Seventh Day Adventist Church of the Lord, he stopped, bending to the stone to tie his shoe. Standing again, he spat on the sidewalk near the rose bushes.

He paced the aisles of the grocery store. These were the facets of life: cabbages, canned beans, and 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola. Eventually he arrived at the checkout line, lane 2, where a wom- an stood, shoulders stooped unlike her eyes. She held her phone to her ear, elbow bent acutely.

“Can you grab my prescription on the way home?” she said.

“Thank you,” she said.

“We’ll be home soon,” she said.

“Come on, honey,” she said, and a pudgy, pink-faced toddler tottered behind her mother, staring perplexedly at him, expression undecided if it was imploring or warning.

He fumbled with his wallet, muttering an apology to the cashier and carefully fastening his buttons as he stepped outside once more. The woman had her back to him. She situated the girl in her car seat and drove away. He walked through the parking space where the car had just been, heading home.

The door clicked shut behind him, and the sound of news radio traipsed around the small space from the speakers near his bed. He stepped carefully around it towards the refrigerator.

Fearfully, he glanced out the window, hoping the pigeons had left him to himself. He preferred being alone.

There, on the sill, the bird sat.

He tapped the window. The bird didn’t move.

He clenched his fist, and tapped harder, again, harder, like a hurried, desperate knock on a door.

The bird struggled slowly, wings thick and gelatinous and no longer like the sea. She’s sick, he thought.

The man stood there for a long time, hand held to his face, unshaven for several days. Stood for long enough that his hand became heavy. Again, he let it fall.

He opened the window. He grabbed the bird, one hand holding its head, one around its wings, pinning them to its body. He snapped its neck, and felt the body give. He let out his breath, and it passed through his lips, cold.