Bird Trauma

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Written by Ella Quinlan 
Art by Lillian Anderson 

The man she was convinced that she would marry was a particular kind of gem – I’ll call him D. D was my brother’s best friend from college. Miraculously, she was only a couple years older than him. It was the scandal of a lifetime – top tier reality TV type drama. My memories of him before he started fucking my mother includes my brother branding an uppercase letter D on this man’s bicep with a clothing iron next to a hole in the wall the size of my toddler head, and his flipped over Jeep on my father’s front yard with his hands in the air mumbling, “I promise Frank, I promise I’m not high.” 

My mother must’ve been just as high as he was. 

For several years, we tolerated a variety of D’s crackhead antics. My mother thought he was a genius and that we should support the “artist” in him. We proceeded to accompany him on healthy and fun artistic endeavors. Including the following:  

  1.  Building snowmen taller than the apartment complex because he “stumbled upon a box of coal” (yes, snowMEN, one of them was over 2 stories high. We needed to use a construction ladder).
  2.  Teaching us children how to play online poker and count cards. Reasoning: “essential life skill”.
  3.  Gluing 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzles together to hang on his 2 year old daughter’s bedroom wall – with no frames. 
  4. Boughing a paintball gun for my mother in response to children playing in the community yard. She was smart enough to threaten them with it. The Family Court Judge loved that one. 

Out of all of these “artistic” batshit crazy ideas, none of them could compare to D’s genius Marriage proposal idea. 

D bought a pair of geese chicks mid winter and kept them in his trusty Jeep for over a week. After the temperature dropped below 30, he just… put them in the living room. Proposing was seemingly the only logical cover up, which would somehow make the demonic feathered anomalies plotting our demise while simultaneously shitting on the living room carpet an OK occurrence. 

Having been raised by my mother, I wasn’t sure if any romantic gesture could remove the steaming satanic bird shit out of the already moldy carpets in that home. Yet, based on the way my mother’s face dropped faster than the shit hitting the rug the moment she walked in–the front step proposal after a day of work does not erase dumbass mistakes like a bottle of Mr. Clean magic foaming spray, a couple hours of being on your knees, and a Yankee Candle. 

 Acts of love will never compare to good cleaning products. Heard that; lesson learned. 

In any other house, that would be the climax to the story. But no, not in their house. D was allowed to keep the geese. Why? Because my mother was too weak to say no. Somehow, the bloodthirsty dinosaurs walking around on toothpicks earned their rightful place in the family as engagement gifts. So, instead of a fat diamond that she could sell on Ebay after the breakup, we had Mickey and Dickey. Early on, my mother’s jack russell terrier, Sparky, unleashed her tiny rage on the geese and slaughtered Dickey before he had the chance to become malevolent. Mickey, though, aged with rage and took it upon himself to carry on his brother’s legacy by being a fucking dick. 

The yard soon belonged to Mickey, and all of us walked on eggshells. If you, the reader, are not familiar with what a bird assault looks like, you have been spared. Let me enlighten you: imagine a massive, over privileged, gargoyle with feathers, running at a speed no creature with webbed feet should be able to achieve, hissing and squawking to show off its THROAT TEETH, pounding its toddler length wings into the air, while I, a small child, sprints in terror armed with only tiny legs and a blue plastic baseball bat. It was a sight to be seen. You were lucky if you would make it through the front door, but more times than not my sister and I would be sitting in our half constructed treehouse with a feathered, twig-legged hellhound circling us on the ground for hours. 

For several years, we mended our wounds from the shovel-nose alien monstrosity that lived in the yard while D took it with him river-tubing down the Pemigewasset River. I’m not sure who said enough of the ongoing war that was happening everyday in the yard, but someone must’ve. On a sunny spring afternoon, an old man in a wheelchair pulled up in his handicap van and rolled confidently up to Mickey’s nest, grabbed him by the neck and said, “he’ll do,” and threw him in the back of the handicap van. Mickey, after years of violence, was destined to become someone else’s dinner. D cried for weeks, so I don’t think it was his idea.

Surprisingly, they never got married. She realized his best friend owned a house with a stain free carpet and moved in with him instead. When he proposed with a ring before I entered middle school, she said no. Last I dared to check in was before High School. At the time she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with a 350 pound scuba diving instructor with a bad case of sleep apnea and a tendency to hoard. She met him because he had a lonely bull in his barn (I wish that was a fun euphemism). 

, Ella Quinlan Lily Anderson

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