The Whoosh of Wings
I’d been writing for hours. My tired brain and I wandered into the garden. To pull a weed, I sat on the edge of a raised bed. I drifted into stillness. A breeze whispered. After five minutes, or was it ten, a bird…I didn’t dare turn…came to hover not two feet from my head. Whoosh, whoosh. Her wings beat down the air. Whoosh, whoosh.
I am a member of a small bible study group at church. At the beginning of our meetings before we study the words of the Christ, we talk about the past week, about the minutiae of our lives. I told my friends about the bird. Later, during the lesson, I lamented that I did not feel the Christ’s presence with me in my life.
Jose remarked, “Ah, but he was with you.”
“When?” I asked.
“In the whoosh of the wings.”
Since that day, I have begun to deliberately embed in my stories the hand of a loving God.
“Tina, would it be alright, if I borrowed your new knife? You see, I was thinking of getting one, and I wanted to try it out.”
“Sure. Do you want me to bring it over?”
“No, that’s okay. I’ll come to you.”
“Is he letting you drive?”
“No, but I’ll take the bus. It’s such a beautiful day. I want to be out.”
At three-thirty in the afternoon, the knife wrapped in a dish towel and stuffed deep into the bottom of my purse, I got off the bus to begin the long walk up the hill to my home. The sun was on the river, like a painting, glistening off the rippling water. The sight of it, like the river had been sprinkled with glitter, transfixed me. I stood staring. Someone had placed a bench on the overlook.
I could sit for a while. I could rest.
My ribs hurt with every breath.
He’d be home at five.
I turned away from the river and the sparkling light. When I reached the rim of the valley and the street on which I lived, I passed by the dead and broken body of a deer, obviously hit by a car. My neighbor, sweet Elkie, ran out to speak to me. “Oh, isn’t it terrible. I saw the whole thing.”
She was all of five feet, slender, white hair. Her yard boasted a sign, “Wildlife Refuge,” which my husband claimed was her excuse for never mowing.
Hands on her face, she lamented, “It must have been frightened. Ran right out into the street.”
The repulsive, bloated corpse stank. Elkie waved a hand in front of her face. “Phew. Come inside. No one should smell death. It’s not healthy.”
“I can’t. I have to get home. It’s almost five.”
She patted my hand. “You know you’re always welcome.”
I hustled away. After all, I had to be there when he walked in, Tina’s new, strong, unbreakable, ceramic knife hidden in the deep front pocket of my apron. When he turned to put his change in the beer mug he kept by the door…
I trotted up the driveway; my cell rang. It was Holly—my beautiful Holly. I couldn’t answer it. Not now. Not when I was so close.
Ding—a voice mail.
I put on my apron, and nestled the knife into its hiding place. I stood by the door.
Tap, tap, tap.
Outside, a cardinal sat on the window ledge tapping with his beak on the glass.
My husband’s 4X4 roared up the driveway.
Tap, tap, tap.
Holly loved cardinals. “They’re Christmas birds, Mom. Every day, all dressed up for a party.”
My heart raced. I couldn’t breathe. Holly? Did she need me? Was she hurt? I jerked around. My phone sat inches away on the counter. Shaking, I pressed voice mail. “Mom, I signed the lease. I’ve got my own apartment. It’s big enough for both of us. Come and live with me, Mom. You can get out. You can get out.”
He opened the door.
I find that my stories are much more realistic, they ring true, now that I consciously add the whoosh of wings.