Microfiction by Addison Zeller

Birds Are Writing Now

The birds gave up singing: now they write short stories. In trees, in bushes, on power lines the sentences run from tersely direct to syntactically byzantine. If life was less complicated, it might be different—they might fly, nest, snatch worms from the dirt—but the wait goes on, the fantasizing, and the fantasies dry up, the wait feels endless. They break down what makes a piece tick. They concoct unanticipated similes. Their sentences are clean. Twig by twig, word by word—outlining, workshopping, then death: beaks parted, legs curled, a pile of blowing wings in a driveway. That’s how it is. Cars zoom by, feathers flutter. The stories are often samey.

Out of the World

I didn’t text, didn’t call, but told myself if she called, I would pick up—if she did call, not text, as she continued to do for years, once every couple months, to say she was doing this or that, never with a question, or in a way that invited reply, and sometimes she only sent a photo of herself at a beach, restaurant, or museum, looking less familiar in each one, progressively shorter, thinner, frailer, hazier, more unsure of where the camera was, finally altogether invisible, not evidently pictured, although I spent time with each new photo, despite my intention not to, searching for a hint of her.

Birds Are Writing Now

Birds are writing now. They gave up singing. One day there was no birdsong, only swaying in the bushes. There was no wind. The swaying was the movement of pencils. If you wish to see them, you must wear gloves. You must pull back the thorns and look in. Their eyes are red from writing. You can steal their eggs easily. Only the writing matters. Anthologists put their hands in the nests and feel for manuscripts. The eggs crack under their gloves. They lift up the gloves and see them glisten with yolk. Insects come to feed in the shards. This is the subject of the writing.

Addison Zeller

Twitter: @amhcrane87
Bluesky: @addisonzeller.bsky.social
IG: @addisonzeller1

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