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Recent stories by
J C Howard


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Love is for the Birds!
By J C Howard   


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Love arrives to our hearts in many forms. But is it all love... or sometimes something else?

The phone rings, she looks and sees his number so answers tenderly in a soft voice, “Hey Matt, what’s up my love?”

 
He talks; she listens lovingly.
 
“Ahh, probably not right now. It’s just not a good time for me,” she reluctantly responds.
 
He talks; she listens intently.
 
"That’s not what I mean. I’m just sayin’ that right now isn’t good.” Matt could hear the irritation in her voice.
 
He talks; she listens carefully.
 
“Well, sorry you feel that way. But look, I really don’t have the extra money right now for such an extravagance. I mean, I’m lookin’ at $400.00 or more to fly to Chicago last minute, and for the weekend? It’s just not worth it.”
 
He talks; she listens but doesn’t hear.
 
“That is so not what I said. I didn’t say YOU weren’t worth it, I said the cost of the weekend wasn’t worth it! You know what I meant, so please, don’t pretend like you don’t. Anyway, I’m super busy at work right now, and will probably be bringing work home with me every night this week.”
 
He talks; she’s no longer listening.
 
Her voice gets louder, there’s anger and tension in her tone as she responds, “Its priorities Matt, priorities! I just told you I can’t ask for time off, we’re swamped and I’m on a tight schedule. What do you want, for me to lose my job or something?”
 
He talks; she listens, but suspiciously.
 
“Now that is just not fair!” Her voice slows but still there’s a hint of pressure in the pitch. “No matter what you say, you know that I am serious about you.”
 
He talks; she listens.
 
“I am a serious lover,” her voice is soft again, this time somewhat regretfully.“O.K., fine. I’ll talk at you later.”
 
He talks; she can’t believe what she just heard.
 
“Then have it your own way. I guess I won’t call you!” Sorrowfully, but indignantly, she closes her phone.
 
“Well, I’m certainly not going to let his attitude ruin my afternoon,” she quietly says to herself as she heads out to the backyard where she can hear herself think. What a beautiful afternoon, almost fall, she whispers with a hint of sadness to the trees hiding the old wooden fence. Thoughtfully she muses; soon I’ll need to rake the glitter fallen from the Oaks. Sitting down at her small iron table she thinks how disheartening it is to see her backyard no longer lush and green, as the days become shorter and the night’s cooler. Her mind continues to wander and she reflects, with a hint of sadness, that everything ages then fades with time, it is the inevitable.  She knows that all Earth, all creatures, lose the luster of their youth. Including love, so similar to the cycle of the seasons she considers soulfully.
 
Her thoughts shift to Matt, thinking back on the brightness of spring, when the smile on her face first met Matt’s shining grin. The memory is sweet and at that moment a smile glides across her face as she remembers, when he ran up to her as she was leaving the café, tapping her gently on the shoulder, “are these your keys?” He asked with hopeful eyes, eyes that penetrated her soul.  To her surprise, together they left the café laughing, feeling connected by some immediate attraction, a force bigger then either of them. It started that simple, light and airy, like a butterfly fluttering along in big loops, lifted on a warm breeze. What a wonderful time of the year it was to begin a new relationship. It was spring; the stars were aligned, a time full of hope and vibrant intensity. But by fall, the colors of life and their love began to fade. Then winter arrived with its seductive curse of slumber and ultimate death.
 
Oh, enough of that she thought to herself, it’s a beautiful afternoon, I’ll just enjoy it. She pours a glass of wine and decides to watch for the last of the hummingbirds, since they too will soon fade, departing for warmer skies. She’d enjoyed their companionship all summer, worshiping their passion and veracity for life. For hours they entertained her as they fought at the feeder for the sweet nectar they treasure. Like skilled Navy pilots, their wings beating at break neck speed. They dart and sprint, shaming mans feeble accomplishments in the air, she thinks to herself. They are amazing. But soon she knows they will vanish, like New Yorkers moving to Florida for the winter, the hummers will escape the cold and fly on warm air channels toward Mexico. Then be as if they never existed.
 
She pours a second glass of merlot and befriends a favorite book to keep her company. Her patio is already perfectly set up to watch for her remarkable Ruby throated beauties. Her binoculars sit silently on the iron table waiting on action, ready to be snatched up at the hint of activity at the feeders. She plops down in the brightly cushioned chair and stretches. What a tiresome afternoon it’s been, her mind wanders again as it slips from this moment back to Matt. “I do care for Matt, but the timing just isn’t right,” she mutters under her breath. “I loathe fighting with him, but it’s all about priorities. I'm not going go waste my time and hard earned money to see him for just one short weekend," she contemplates as she puts the pieces together in her mind. Her smooth brow furrows, her dusty blonde bangs dance along the edge of her face, as she pouts in solitude. In her mind’s eye, she beats herself up to justify her decision. “I mean it is our busy season at and all,” she repeats to herself.
 
For the rest of the afternoon, she relaxes in the fading heat of the setting sun. The warmness of the wine soothes her tired soul and dulls her discontentment. For the next few hours, she allows herself to become absorbed solely by watching and listening for just one last sighting of a hummer, the beautiful hummers that demand nothing of her.
 
Too soon the sun fades and bids goodnight to the horizon, like a smoldering fire in the distance, only a gentle glow remains. The evening cool now enfolds her. Like a thief, the night quietly steals away with the day. She empties the bottle of wine thinking she hasn't seen the last of her darlings; deep down she needs her farewells, her closure to summer. "Maybe tomorrow,” she whispers to the tall Oaks listening.
 
Morning comes quickly. She rises early and takes her coffee out to the patio. Her mind echoes, that with luck she will see her little darlings this morning before work. Three hours of the morning, now lost. Still, no hummingbirds. “I must see one, just one, before they leave for the season, before they leave for the season. I must,” she repeats to herself. It’s as if some unknown compulsion has strangely taken over.
 
“Uh, hi, Darla, it’s me Edie. I am sorry but I won’t make it into work today. Yeah, I’m feeling really crummy. Yeah and vomiting too. Ok, sure. Yeah, thanks. I hope I’ll feel better by tomorrow too. Ok, thanks.” Without even a hint of a guilty conscience, she smiles thinking to herself the vomiting line is always a good touch.
 
For the rest of the day, she quietly sits on the patio, watching just watching. She's puzzled by this strange compulsion. Why now, this feeling so duty bound to see these little birds once more? She doesn’t understand it, but isn't going to fight it.
 
The sun fades. Another day gone. Night falls. Again, no hummers, not even the hint of one. Has she seen the last of them without knowing it, she asks to herself? Has she missed her sweet farewell? Could it be they came when she had to take a break from the patio? “Tomorrow I'll be better prepared,” she mumbles inaudibly.
 
Next morning she is up before the sun peeks in through her bedroom window. She brews her morning coffee and pours it into a thermos. She prepares cereal to sustain her through the morning and makes a sandwich for lunch. A second thermos is filled with water for the rest of the day. She is determined to take no unnecessary chances. This is a good plan, she knows it will work. Then remembers to change the nectar in the feeder, as a final touch. Yes, that’s it. Maybe the nectar isn’t sweet enough. This will draw them in, she considers carefully to herself.
 
“Darla, it’s me again. No, I still feel awful. Yeah I know. No. Now it’s even worse, it’s projectile! Oh yes, I’m just exhausted. No, I feel like I haven’t slept a wink.” Her boss reminds her that to call in sick for a third day, requires the accompaniment of a doctor’s note.
 
She knows that this may be the last week to indulge in their beauty before they head south. The literature says so. So where are they, she bites her lip in wonder. The morning races by, the sun now dangles high in the sky. The sun and nature laugh as she sits in frustration. Now more then ever, she is determined to see her darlings one last time before winter’s painful invasion.
 
“Uh, hello, yes, I would like to book a flight please. Yes. I need to go to uh, I think its pronounced Campeche, that’s in Mexico. Yes, that’s right, Campeche. Do you know, is that where the ruby red throated hummingbirds go for the winter? Oh, well I’m sure I’m right. What’s the earliest flight you have leaving from Dallas? Yes, that’s fine. Ok, hang on. I’m writing this down. Oh great. Can you also contact a tour agent there? I know that there are birding tours and I like to book one if possible. Yes, that’ll be fine. Yes, by credit card. How much will that be? Wow! Really, h-m-m-m. Well, are there ay discount fares available?" She bites her lip in temporary contemplation. "Yes, I realize that last minute flights plans are always more expensive. No, just for the weekend. O.K., that’s perfectly fine then. Yes, please book me on the birding tour also.”
 
“Your quite a serious lover, aren’t you,” remarks the voice on the other end of the phone as the booking is completed.
 
 
“Huh?” Suddenly her previous conversation with Matt floods back. Hadn’t he said that she wasn’t a serious lover? What was the travel agent talking about? She was confused. “I’m sorry, what was that?” She inquires.
 
“Simply, that you sound like a serious lover, a serious bird lover I mean. It sounds like a real priority for you,” the travel agent reiterates.
 
“Oh! Yes, I suppose you’re right, I am a serious lover, h-m-m-m.” 

 

 

 

 



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Recent Short Stories by this author.     All Short Stories by this author
  • Freedom Is Never Free (Friday, February 03, 2012)
  • Love Everlasting (Wednesday, January 25, 2012)
  • From Father to Son (Thursday, December 01, 2011)
  • Babble (Thursday, December 01, 2011)
  • Father's favorite excerpts (Thursday, December 01, 2011)
  • The Grade (Wednesday, November 23, 2011)
  • It Had Been A Long Year (Thursday, November 17, 2011)
  • Haunting Eyes-Part Two (Friday, August 19, 2011)


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