He places the cardboard box on the table and even before he opens the flap or says anything my heart drops like a stone and threatens to stop. My mouth falls open and I freeze. I can’t tear my eyes away.
There has been no warning, but there’s no doubt in my mind. There are birds in that box. He’s going to open it. I just know it.
I was right. He opens the box and at the first hint of a fluttering wing I’m unfrozen and instantly turned away from the scene, my arms protectively curled around my face.
Breathe. My mind whispers. Breathe. You’re OK. It’s just a TV show. There are no birds in this room. They’re on the other side of the screen. Breathe.
I know it’s just a TV show. My rational brain knows there are no birds in here, and, after a tense moment, I actually manage to convince myself that it’s OK to open my eyes. It’s safe. No wings will flutter near my face, no tiny boned feathered bodies will hurl themselves at me today. But it takes a while for my heart to stop hammering and for my breathing to return to normal.
I do not like birds. OK. Clearly that’s an understatement. I loathe and fear birds. I’ve always shunned any winged animal – they’re the only thing in the world that can make me completely lose my composure and my right mind.
When I lived in Paris, I was hard pressed to avoid the million pigeons that littered every street corner and rooftop in the city. My friends knew better than to question my erratic way of walking down the street – first one sidewalk then switch to the other at the first sign of a cluster of pigeons and then back again at the next sign of trouble.
Here in the Silicon Valley suburbs pigeons are few and far between and just a few loud expletives are enough to scare off the odd swallow or scrub-jay that cross my path. The crows are harder to scare so we have a tacit agreement, they don’t flap their wings near me and I pretend they aren’t loitering on my front lawn. It’s not ideal, but it works. In fact, I thought I was safe. Who could have guessed the hateful things were lying in wait inside my beloved TV?
This post was written in response to the Sunday Scribblings prompt Scary. Click through to read other fantastic entries.