Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Nightingale

By Tyger Schonholzer

If you think the small, insignificant bird that landed on your window and tweeted so sweetly triggered your homesick longing, you weren’t paying close enough attention.

It is an easy mistake to make. Although the modest brown Passerine astonishes with its warbles, trills, and gurgles, it does not wrench your heart. What soars beyond it is the true source of your pain and is the sole reason for the small bird’s nightly call.

If you could understand the songster’s language, you might hasten to close your window, pull the covers over your head and pray. If you could heed his warning, you might save yourself from slicing your wrists with shards of broken glass and watching your life pulse away onto the stone floor.

You call him Nightingale, yet the one who bears that name lurks in the shadows and rides the autumn winds. The bird is only its herald. Listen to his lovely call at your peril. Danger follows behind him. Do not linger at the window if you mean to live into the next year.

Nightingale swoops not from the sky but from the depths of Yffern. Its wings are not of flesh and blood, but spun from darkest despair. You will not see it against the night sky, yet its many-colored, shimmering coat confounds and taunts the eye like a three-dimensional illusion.

Its name hints at its true nature, and was given by distraught sailors eons ago. Storm-battered prayers rising from trembling lips begged mercy. “Do not let us perish in this tempest. Do not let night fall on us in this gale!”

And yet, night fell and men drowned while Nightingale sucked life from their souls and blood from their bodies. Did they hear the bird sing, just before the horrid creature struck? Perhaps they did, but we shall never know.

Last night, the warbler sang behind my home. I ran to close my windows, lock my doors, and light my white candles against the dread that would surely follow. My gratitude to the small bird for his warning! I am still alive today.

Outside my door, my true love lies sprawling, his eyes broken. His hand clutches a letter still, yet his wrists are sliced and the blood has long since stopped flowing.

Did he ring my doorbell? Did he try to speak to me?

I cry out and with shaky fingers dial the paramedics, although I know that his life is already spent.

In the morning sun, a tiny brown bird raises his wings. He does not sing today.

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Tyger Schonholzer is a respiratory therapist and writer who lives on a small farm in East Texas. Her short stories were published by Bewildering Stories and The Writer’s Desk, her poetry in Sol Magazine. She blogs irregularly but passionately. Her poetry chapbooks are available at Lulu.com and her novel, ‘Once Upon a Rape’ is available as ebook from Amazon. Her personal website provides links to her activities: www.tygerschonholzer.weebly.com

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