Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Untitled (First Draft Doodling -Now with extra edits!)

(NOTE: The following post has been cleaned up a bit since it was first posted. My lovely wife is the best editor I could ask for when it comes to grammar and punctuation. It's nice to have someone you care about point out how bad you are at something. Thanks, honey.)

"Why don't we hear birds singing more often here?" she asked as they walked through the forest, following the ragged, rock-studded trail. Phillip had stopped walking and closed his eyes listening, noticing for the first time the oddly quiet trees. It did seem strange to be in the middle of the forest and to hear so few birds.

"Maybe it's too early for most of them?" he said, guessing. He heard his wife sigh as she started walking again. She had little use for guesses as a rule, and even less patience for guesses that came from him. She had once complained that he had to have an answer for everything, and even if he didn't know, he would make up an answer just to have something to say.

It was the lack of bird song in the air that Phillip found himself thinking about as he regained consciousness. He was on his back, and his blurry gaze smeared the electric-green pines across a clouding sky. He lay still, letting his over-tasked mind take stock of the dozens of messages his body was sending him all at once. The left leg screamed the loudest, its voice cracking and breaking with the force, pushing the slightly softer voices coming from the rest of his body to the background. Phillip started to reach instinctively with his right arm to run down the outside edge of his leg, but it wouldn't move. Best to think about the arm in a minute, he thought, and decided to try his left.

Phillip's index and middle fingers walked slowly down the outside of his hip and down his leg, pulling its arm behind it until he felt his left shoulder lower just slightly, causing a jagged flash of pain to rip across his chest. His fingertips rested on jagged splinters of what he reasoned must be bone. "Shit" he muttered.

Slowly he tried to account for his injuries as best as he could without moving. His left leg was broken into kindling, right arm still immobile, left wrist throbbing with each beat of his heart. Phillip's chest felt like a barbed-wire tumbleweed was blowing around, scraping at the inside of his skin and lungs with each breath. He closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing, not wanting the panic that was tapping him on the shoulder to crawl on top of him and start screaming the truth of his situation in his face.

In movies, when someone wakes up after being knocked unconscious they awaken confused, never sure what happened to them. It takes a doctor or sensative-eyed police officer gently breaking the news before realization and memory comes flooding back. For Phillip though, he remembered everything. He remembered standing on the overlook, watching the swaying treetops at eye level. He remembered the sudden absence of ground under his feet. He remembered the blur of rock and sky. He remembered the warmth of Janelle's palms in the middle of his back and being surprised at the force and strength behind them as she pushed.

Slowly, Phillip opened his eyes and looked to the cliff face above where she still stood, looking down on him. Small in the distance, he imagined a look of disappointment on her face as she looked down at his small movements. They stayed that way, Janelle with arms crossed glaring down the cliff, Phillip reclining amongst the rocks his limbs improbably folded in 45 degree angles, looking at each other through the distance. Slowly, Janelle turned and disappeared from sight.

A soft red movement caught Phillip's eye, and he turned his head to examine the source. High above, perched near the top of a still-budding Maple, a Robin had lighted and swayed in the breeze watching him. Feeling insecure with its perch, the Robin flitted and adjusted, finding purchase on a thicker branch. The bird seemed unafraid, accustomed to the heavy weekend traffic of the state park. Still, it kept its distance while appearing to maintain eye contact and Phillip found himself seeing the same disappointed look that had clouded his wife's face in the sharp intelligence of the Robin's eyes.

Without telegraphing intention, the Robin swooped down and found rest on a lower branch, this one a mere ten feet from Phillip. Still it seemed to keep its focus on him, never looking side to side.

Phillip smiled up at the bird. He saw it breathe in and open its mouth.

"Are you going to sing for me?" he whispered up, his chest pinching around the words.

The bird closed its mouth, turned to the side and flew away.

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