Bird’s Eye View

by Kathryn Burkett

POV 1 

Wind whips her hair around her pale, expressionless face, unruly strands lashing at her cheeks, across her eyes. Her feet precariously planted on the edge of the cliff, sockless in her soiled white canvas sneakers. The ocean rolls and roars far below, foamy waves beating into the sand. The whispering of the wind grows louder, into an almost musical howl at times, blowing long blades of grass into an involuntary dance. 

She softly exhales into the howling around her, an unheard whisper disappearing in the harsh, blowing wind. She seems to stand apart, oddly removed from any warmth of the sun burning overhead, unaware of the solitary white bird that seems to watch her from a neighboring perch, whistling as if in a vain attempt to catch her attention. Her ivory shirt billows beneath her mostly unzipped navy sweatshirt, as if attempting to take flight from the ridged confines of her body, wanting to float freely in the wild winds. 

The salty air tickles the wings of the lone, white bird. It flaps on its perch, eyes still fixed on the lone figure of flesh looming at the edge of the cliff. The eyes of the woman remain open, focused on something seemingly beyond the current scene. The wind, the sun, the sea swirling around her stillness. 

Some almost imperceptible shift in the body of the woman alerts the bird. It suddenly takes flight, flapping wildly to the side of her, hovering like a feathery angel. The body of the woman takes flight. She falls through the blue of sky, plummeting like a rock of flesh and bone. Her body crumples on the sand, a bloody shell. The bird dives down toward the wreck of her, then pulls itself back toward the sun, flying away over the relentless foamy waves. 

POV 2 

Among the breeze and sun of a summer day, an oddity. Planted near the edge of the cliff, a tree of flesh and bone, its broken boughs hung with fabric that billows in the breeze. Ropes of hair fly in the wind, as if she could become untethered from where she stands. I see her standing like a rusted anchor ready to break loose. I whistle to her, not a song, but an attempted warning, trying to see if she gives any response, but no. There is no response from her. I look at her wonderingly. Can she fly? No, I do not believe she can fly. She has no feathers, and her arms look too frail to support the rest of her. Even more importantly, she hasn’t the heart to do it. Her eyes look vacant and don’t have the glint of sun or speckles of stars necessary to be able to navigate the twisting pressure of flight. It’s isn’t as easy as it looks to soar among the clouds. 

I sense something sad in her, standing alone at the edge above the waves. She is there, yet not there. She seems far away from the wind, the sun, the sea, even from herself. A slight twitch of muscle on bone—involuntarily, she shifts, betraying her intention. I fly from my lofty perch in an attempt to dissuade her. I can feel the momentum of her weight moving forward. I fly beside her, flapping my wings in a vain attempt to show her: this, like this, this is how to fly.

It is not enough. She plummets like a rock, falling down towards the sea, her arms limp, not like wings, but like weights, pulling her down. She falls to the shore, motionless and crumpled. I circle her, wondering why she tried to fly when it was so obvious she could only fall.

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