Thursday, January 14, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Flickr Photo Challenge

I've never done a flash fiction challenge before. But this year I'm not just embracing writing, I'm giving it a full body tackle, so I've decided to do some of the scary things. Like this. The challenge was to write 1,000 words based on a random photo generated by the handy dandy link provided.

The challenge was the brain child of Chuck Wendig, who provides excellent mental exercises that stretch all the best mind muscles.

My photo, by the lovely and talented Joe Branco (no, I don't know him, but I'm sure he is)

My 954 words:

Bird Watching

He stares at me with his beady eye and cocks his head to the side. He looks smug. Like he’s just told himself a joke and I don’t get to know the punch line. I play nice, because I’ve seen the Hitchcock movie, and I’d rather not come down on the wrong side of the line, in the event that a feathery revolution takes place.

“Hello,” I tell him, peering past my computer screen. He doesn’t respond. Thank goodness.

Instead, he rolls his neck and surveys me with the other eye, claws still poking through the window screen. He chirps once and flies away, off to poke his beak into someone else’s business. Finally. Now I can get some work done.

When he arrives the following day, I do a quick Google search and try to determine what he might eat. Apparently, his diet consists of fruits, nuts, frogs, small birds, eggs and insects. And acorns, which the screen tells me is his favorite. I survey my pantry, which has two potatoes that are growing legs and probably plotting an escape, one small bin of oatmeal, and three half eaten boxes of cereal. No acorns.

I eventually decide that dried cranberries are the best I can do, so I squeak open the front door and litter the stoop with the crimson wrinkly berries. I don’t much like them, but in comparison to caterpillars they might not be half bad.

He isn’t amused.

The day after my peace offering, he announces his presence by ramming his beak full force into the glass of my window. I slosh coffee down my front, and run to the window to make sure he isn’t bleeding a halo onto the cement. He sits in a low tree branch and glares at me.
“It’s not my fault,” I remind him. “I didn’t put the window there.” He doesn’t respond, though I half expect to receive a literal ‘flipping of the bird.’ He flaps away, leaving the cranberries untouched.

Halfway through my third cup of coffee, or really, second since I’m wearing the better part of my first, he reappears in a dizzying haze of feathers. He throws himself against the window at full speed, and when his super-bird powers don’t kick in, he contents himself to peck at the window instead. Apparently he believes the adage about slow and steady… and has decided that if he must disassemble my window one molecule at a time, he is contented to do so.

After three days of his determined attention, I’ve decided that he must think that his reflection is a lovely ladybird, and be attempting to woo her. I’m not 100% sure which part of the eternal pecking would appeal to a ladybird, but I also don’t like to eat acorns. So what do I know about bird love.

I turn to the Internet, and spend an hour parsing methods of convincing birds to leave you alone. I call my husband over lunch and beg his opinion.
“It says to put mesh over the windows,” I tell him as I finally throw away my many-legged potatoes. “Or soap. Putting soap on the windows makes the reflection go away. Do you think I should try that?”
“I think you should move the bird house,” he tells me. “And if that doesn’t work… I’ll see what I can do.”
“You can’t hurt him,” I plead. “It isn’t his fault. He’s in love.” My husband doesn’t argue. Because he’s been married to me for long enough to know a lost cause when he sees one.
I return to the Internet. And see a man who calls himself “herekittykitty19” has taped a photo of his cat to his window to scare the birds away. “Works like a charm,” he claims.

I don’t have a cat. I have a dog that thinks it’s a cat, and who can’t even scare the turtles out of the yard.

“I’m more cat that you are,” I tell her as she drapes herself across my feet. Speaking of…

One hour later, every window in my house is plastered in photos of me. Making a snarling cat face, with one ‘paw’ in the air. Because cats are sassy. and I have a diagnosable plethora of self esteem.

When my husband comes home, he finds me in the kitchen. Cooking, but not the potatoes with the legs.

“What did you do today?” he asks, leaning against the counter in front of the only drawer that I need to get anything out of.

“Just worked,” I tell him.

“And the photos are…” he fishes. 

“To keep the bird away!” I answer enthusiastically.

“Of course they are,” he nods before leaving the room, probably to lie down and reexamine his life priorities.

The photos work spectacularly for the first couple of days. The bird stays away. I can work in peace. The postman seemed a little startled, but he got used to them by the third time he came by. All is right with the world.

Until the bird decided that he wasn’t scare of sassy-cat faces made by annoyed looking women. And decided he ought to just peck around it. I leave the photos up anyway, because apathy is real and I didn’t want to have tape marks on my windows.

On the fifth day, I decide this is what slipping into insanity must feel like.

On the seventh day, I debate buying a bird trap.

On the twelfth day, I debate making a bird trap.

On the fifteenth day, I debate wearing noise canceling headphones for the rest of my life.

And then, on the twentieth day, I finally take the birdhouse down. And sneakily put it next to the neighbor’s house.

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