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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Short #20

Tracee Vetting Wolf. Boy & Bird. 2. 5" x 3.5"

Mixed media (collage, acrylic, watercolor, pencil).

Bluebird, My Brother

It landed on my shoulder and I knew. There were chirps or birdsong, but I heard my brother’s voice. “Told you.”

From a distance, I watched our woodpile collapse as our dog Tucker dragged a log out. Tucker is six months old. “They are chewers,” Mom had said when Dad suggested we get a dog, a black lab. The little blue bird flew beside me as I chased Tucker away from the wood. Then it landed on my shoulder again like a trained house bird, a pet. It really did, and I really heard it say, “Told you” again, just like my sixteen-year-old brother Avery would have said.

The bird and I returned to the porch steps, where I sat down. Tucker barked at a squirrel up in a tree. I never wanted a dog. “Told you,” I said to the bird. I had told Avery, who always wanted a dog, that dogs were too much work. “Told you” is what Avery always said after the team he’d picked to win the Super Bowl or NBA Finals or World Series or whatever did. Avery had said last spring that the Blackhawks would win the Stanley Cup again. He drove the used Honda my parents got him for graduation to his friend Jake’s house to watch the second game.

Avery said he’d teach me to drive when I was older. I don’t want to learn anymore, though Mom keeps saying, “When you get your license, you can drive yourself to baseball and karate or whatever else you’ll be doing in in a couple years.” Mom tries to talk about serious stuff when she’s driving me somewhere, but it feels wrong. Avery was the one I’d talk to. He always talked to me like an adult, like I mattered, even though I was six years younger, like he was really listening.

The small bird on my shoulder looks at me. I’ve researched reincarnation online but I thought people became people again. The bird flits from my shoulder to the porch railing. Blue was Avery’s favorite color. He loved to sing. His room was like the bluebird house our neighbor nailed to his fence post, narrow with one small window-opening.

“Told you,” Avery says, and I know he means that the Blackhawks would win, which he never got to see. “I miss you,” I say, and the bluebird takes flight.

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