It must be that cardinal, I told her. We'd seen him around the yard and this was a cold night, ten degrees. Maybe the bird was trying to get out of the cold? Was it safe for birds to be outside on a night like this? My husband immediately went into research mode.
He set out sunflowers seeds and found a small box and put tissues inside of it and hung it up on the back porch where the bird had been. And then we all forgot about it. A few weeks went by and now we have a box nailed up under the porch eaves. A year from now it will probably still be there and one day we'll look up and think, wait, why is there a box nailed up under the porch eaves?
It's easy to get used to strange things.
This year of all years. My husband bopping around the house in his pajamas all day, our grown daughter living at home again. The masks and social distancing signs. Zoom holiday gatherings and virtual festivals. Sometimes I have the feeling that we're living in a simulation.
Or maybe we're trapped in a weirdo offshoot of a multiverse. How can any of this be real?
We're tired and we want it to be over. When it IS over, we'll pretend it never happened. We'll eat out at restaurants again and invite people into our homes, barefaced. We'll push our carts through the grocery store aisles in any direction we choose.
I took the dogs out the other night. It was dark and cold. Something rustled above me and I looked up. There was the red bird, only a foot away from my head. It was frozen. Eyes black and staring right at me. I can't adequately describe how unsettling it was. It didn't look real. How still it was. How close.
What world do we live in now?