Cardinal
by Ben Galley
mother picked out were long gone, the white ones with the little cornflower patterns pasted on them by a careful designer
sat in some Swedish office far away in a place we never went.

The wind is cold, and threatens to dislodge me while I wait, so I decide to retreat to the safety of a branch nearer the
trunk. Clouds scatter across the grey sky and run fearfully from the approaching storm. At least it isn’t raining any-
more, I think to myself, but through the flapping leaves I can still see the dark clouds on the far horizon. The night
before had been terrible, with that disgusting type of wind-driven rain that hits you in the face like a thousand liquid
hammers. Two boys from across the street are playing with a hose, only gods know why in this unfriendly autumn
weather, but still their childish shrieks floated on the wind to where I hid unseen in the branches of our oak tree. A brief
gust of wind tugs at me again and I hold on tightly with both of my feet.

I built that house, every stick and stone of it, wooden frames, doors and window sills. It’s a nice area too, a strange old
couple across the way but they’re nice enough. I can see their twitching curtains from here. I wonder with curiosity at the
blue car that had taken up residence in my drive. Strange, I noticed, as humans how much we fear change. Seems so
bizarre to me now.

Movement in my house. I shiver and hold on to the tree a little tighter. The house is dark inside and no lights are on yet,
but I think I see a shape moving around in our bedroom. The figure stoops and picks up something that looks like a stray
sock. It’s you. I can tell from the way you move around in little bursts of movement, pausing and then moving again like
a little bubble of energy. Your hair is longer now and I can make out that you’re wearing those clothes that you always
wear around the house, like that old t-shirt I bought you in France.

I let the wind rustle my feathers. I think I can hear a clang in the garage above the howling wind. The old tree must be
almost breaking under the stress; the pain was audible in the creaks and moans of the old, oak wood but still I cling on to
the wet branch.