The Birds Were Fools

Lisa Mottolo


The birds were fools.

The man, whose name you won’t remember, spit rage at the flightful ignoramuses. They had flown over the dead without a wing out of whack. The doves were without mourning and the sea birds were gulls; gulled into a make-believe peace through the work of the wind carrying away the corpses’ stench.

The birds had charmed childhoods and unimaginable privilege.

The man hadn’t a choice but to let the sand hold his body. Gravity denied him a single option. He remembered seeing, as a teenager, a photo of sand beneath a microscope. He believed, until 4 days ago, that there existed true beauty in the glorified dirt. The grains of sand were depicted in his mind, up until 4 days ago, as stardust and precisely cut gemstones, but they now smelled like a flooded cemetery.

He let out  a visceral, screaming sob as he thought of the vacation photos he took and would never look at, as he thought of how much he had contemplated what to order at a restaurant so recently, as though it had mattered. The fresh water, poured from pitchers held by pony-tailed servers, ran down the throats of his family, invisible to any consideration.

His lips were a dry ring on his face, about to snap like a hardened rubber band.
He opened his mouth and poured out a high-pitched noise, too unfamiliar to be called a scream, as he witnessed the birds in their flocks, their families, their flight overhead.

The destroyed plane sat in black ash with some intact metal pieces that had promised, 4 days ago, to carry the passengers home.

The man, whose name you would maybe read once and then forget, no longer felt hunger but winced at the piercing emptiness of his chest. And he saw, in a single emerald leaf, the yard that his children had so recently laid upon, and he saw, in the fallen black feathers on the unrecognizable beach, the spoilt entities of the planet still pleasuring from the company of their spawn.




Lisa Mottolo is a writer from Upstate New York who uses the themes of discontent, disgust, and isolation. She has an affinity for birds, which are highly intelligent creatures prone to be driven mad by neglectful or abusive caretakers.