Pearson Chambel

Magpie looked around at his little collection of shiny things. Each one was a small piece of the outside snatched up and brought home. Some were hard and sharp, others soft and scratchy, but none of them satiated his obsessive desire to collect.

So, he searched further, his beady eyes scrutinised every gully and crevice of the outside. Two disks of hazelnut combing through the evening vista. The sun languorously threw long rays of light from its perch on the horizon, coating everything with viscous golden luminescence. Deep shadows flowed and stretched greedily across the ground like molasses. The towering gumtrees on either side of the thunder-path formed long processions of undulating green and brown. Wind meandered through their wizened out-stretched branches, rustling Magpie’s feathers. It carried upon it the acrid greasy stench of an approaching shine-monster.

These creatures terrified Magpie, they came roaring along the thunder-path with bellies full of two-leg-food-givers. Their shiny metal shells were attractive, but Magpie knew the truth. Any attempt to snatch little pieces from the carapace of these creatures resulted in birds falling still. Grim reminders of this lay strewn beside the thunder-path; the permeating stench given off by these would-be snatchers temporarily masked by the foul odour oozing off the shine-monster that had just pushed its bulbous body over the horizon.

It grumbled and growled, straining to drag its gargantuan frame across the thunder-path at an incomprehensible speed. This one must be hungry, only one two-leg-food-giver was trapped in its belly. It raced towards Magpie’s home sending up a spiralling column of rustling leaves in its wake. It operated with a feverish intensity; foul black exhaust fumes poured out of its tail.

Suddenly, the side of the shine-monster slid open and from within the belly of the beast Magpie saw a dazzling spark. The spark coalesced into a dense circle of light, the sight of which dredged up a fierce primordial desire within Magpie. He had to have it.

The circle was violently ejected from the shine-monster by the somehow still alive two-leg-foodgiver in what seemed to Magpie to be a brazenly wasteful act. He tracked the circle’s fall with the intensity of a starving dingo hunting its prey, all the while fantasising about its place amongst his collection. The shining circle struck the ground, clinking and bouncing along the thunder-path. Magpie was completely enthralled by it as it jingled to a stop.

It lay dazzling in the middle of the thunder-path. Light bounced off the circle in a playfully lazy manner, tempting Magpie. The smooth regularity of its curves stood out from the surrounding nature to an alien degree. Further enthralling Magpie was the colour of this mysterious shiny thing. So golden was its complexion that it almost seemed to melt into the warm evening light.

Magpie’s reservations fear of the thunder-path melted away; he realised he had to dive onto the path to get the circle. He saw in the surrounding trees many others coming to the same conclusion.

Suddenly, the air was alive with a squawking cacophony as birds, like so many soldiers rushing into the maw of battle, took flight towards the prize.

Magpie dived, tucking in his wings tightly around his body; the wind whistled and cracked across him as he pealed through the air. His eyes were engrossed by the circle, the thunder-path rushed up to meet him. Magpie could sense the presence of birds behind him; he would have to be quick.

He flared his wings. Such was the speed of his dive that the air had turned into a thick, rendering fluid that tore at his feathers with screaming intensity. His joints strained in agony against the air, his muscles a caterwaul of agony. Throughout this Sisyphean effort Magpie never lost track of his goal. He was jostled and pecked at from all angles but still managed to sneak his beak down and snatch the little piece of sunshine off the ground. Bitterly fighting gravity, Magpie clawed at the air. Prize in possession and tracked by a procession he began darting through the trees to escape.

Elise Bowman saw these events through her rear-view mirror. Her wedding ring formed the centre piece of the mad bedlam. Tears slid down her cheeks and coalesced along the edge of her broken jaw, like rain collecting on the edge of a roof. Once there, it mingled with blood and spittle before dribbling down her neck.

She couldn’t feel it.

The real pain came from her heart. See, the issue was that she still loved him, her husband. Deep down her heart still sung in time with his, but no amount of love could protect her from his alcohol-fuelled fists.

It was an insidious thing, love. Despite all that he had done to her, leaving him was still more painful than the blows. But, she had to. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t fix him, and no matter how much she cried he wouldn’t relent.

So, she left.

She knew love wouldn’t protect her, but distance might.

The golden band of matrimony that had once bound, now tied. It tied her to the man she loved, the man she hated. She knew that in order to release herself she had to undo the shackle, and so, out the window it went.

The magpie alighted upon its nest having escaped the flock. There, standing amongst its little collection of little things, it added another to the pile. Built in with the hard things, the soft things and the shiny things was a small piece of yet another broken dream.

The magpie looked up and warbled triumphantly into the evening air; it couldn’t know what the ring meant and frankly, it wouldn’t care. The bird didn’t care about the woes represented, only the shine, and the way it presented. The bird felt more satisfied yet still unfulfilled, it left the nest, still needing to build.

So outward it leapt
Air under wing
To find the next,
Shiny Thing.