Nadine belongs to an owl now. They imprinted while I was on vacation. I scowl at my hot pink crop-top & try to pull it down over my belly button. Boy Crazy is printed in puff letters across my chest.
She exhales out the window. All she has to do is call its name & the bird will come, silent as smoke, to perch on her arm. They are so connected, she says, that with a single command it would gut me like a fish.
But I know better than to look an owl in the eyes.
The new dog howls down by the river. He has one blue eye & one brown one because he is half wolf / half dog. The air is spiced in the cologne of lupines.
I close the window.
I’ve been warned about the unpredictability of half-things.
The new garden is ringed in marigolds & nasturtiums because the new neighbors have a natural way of living. They string up decoys made of tin plates & ribbons that whip & rattle & reflect all around the tomatoes.
But the crows steal the ribbons & leave them on my windowsill, sometimes with a piece of river glass or a bead from a long-lost necklace.
I hide them under my pillow in case sleep requires payment for passage.
Nadine spent all summer reading romance novels. She bought a Harlequin each week from Shop N’ Save & now she knows everything about love.
I pull a paperback off the shelf & tuck it down my shorts.
Lights flicker. Maple leaves go belly up. The TV cuts out & her mother curses from the living room, in French. She pulls her nightshirt off over her head. Curtains billow. Her underwear, a crumple on the carpet, tells her it’s Tuesday. Wings beat against the window, knocking out the screen. She holds up her wrist. Eight talons click into place.
In the morning, balanced on my windowsill, is a knot of hair & teeth & bones.
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