by: Jesse Miller
It happened because she was edgy and bursting. It was the first day you could really feel Spring approaching. It was that brief time in between seasons that she could feel something new happening, and it made her anxious and excited. It was like new air, or sweeping cobwebs. There was a light rain outside and Madeleine wanted to throw open her two little windows to her small apartment space and let the warm mist fill the room. But the noise from the traffic would've been too much, and she was worried for the bird. As it was, the hiss of the scratchy needle was barely audible. She crouched down beside the heating vent to listen. The music was low and tired. Something like Billie Holiday. It was Billie Holiday, but for the two weeks she had looked, she hadn't been able to find it in any of the record shops. She leaned against her raggedy old reading chair and stared at the stack of books and odd art supplies next to her. Too much time spent inside reading and dreaming, she worried.
She looked up at the small, blue-green bird in the cage next to her bed, and then picked up a blue crayon. The bird was quiet. Quite still and beautiful. Every once in a while she would turn her head slightly to observe her new surroundings. She was calm. Even when Madeleine had brought her home a week ago and taken a polaroid of her, she had fluttered her wings, but in a gentle way. The softly blurred movement was a moment of perfect grace, Madeleine thought, as she ran her fingers along the edge of the picture which now hung on the wall beside the chair. She looked like the sea. As she put down the crayon for another, it started. She wondered how long Maggie had lived down there. How long she had been there. She rested her head against the wall and began to slowly peel away the old crayon's paper label. She reached for a jar of rubber cement and twisted off the top. The music mixed with the sound of Maggie, as if the sobs were a part of the song. Not like an instrument - not an accompanying sound - but interior, as if growing from within the music. A ghost. Madeleine brushed a streak of glue next to the polaroid and stuck the green paper to the wall. "Seafoam," she whispered.
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