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A House Empty of Birdsong

by Sarah Louise Hall

Lynn hated how empty the house felt when it wasn’t filled with birdsong, so she filled it with paintings and antique wood furniture and shelves, and the shelves with ornithology books and cross-stitched portraits of trees, and she made sure there were plenty of flowers around the house, even in winter when they were hard to find and expensive to buy, because the smell and color they added to a room was worth it, especially in the kitchen which often felt the most empty because of the cold granite countertops and the unopened bag of birdfeed and the stainless steel appliances that she hardly ever used and couldn’t stand seeing her reflection in, so she made sure to liven up the kitchen with lacy doilies and red tea cups and a cute vase with long bird feathers inside and the china set, not collecting dust behind glass in a display cabinet but laid out, so that the individual loops of color could be examined up close and the curves of bowls could be traced with fingers and the plates could be flipped over and the inscriptions on their undersides read, the initials of the woman who owned the china before Lynn’s mother’s mother had bought it, along with the paper with the instructions that Lynn and her mother’s mother followed down to every last syllable of the incantation they spoke as they served Lynn’s mother a feast of wild berries and sunflower seeds, and before Lynn’s mother pecked at one of the dinner plates until it chipped under the force of her anger, and before Lynn had ordered the specially-made extra-large bird cage that now sat empty in the basement, perch still gouged with talon marks and latch still broken from where it had been smashed from the inside.

Sarah Louise Hall is a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed eighteen-year-old who enjoys brevity in her writing but hopes for longevity in her life. If need be, she can solve a Rubik’s cube while saying the alphabet backwards, although it’s rare that particular skill set is required. This would be her first publication other than her high school’s literary magazine, which only sometimes counts.

Lead image: “For the Birds” (via Flickr user ccharmon)