In June I led my writing group in a series of writing prompts that brought some thoughtful conversation, moments of bonding, and a ton of laughter. The first week I presented a list of writing prompts to choose from, and by a strange coincidence, every one of us chose the same prompt: Write about a bird migrating south for the winter. Our format was to write in 3 ways, first, second, and third person. I thought it might be fun to put them out into the world for others to read. If you know me, make sure you read them in my voice. If you don’t know me, just make it the most nasally Birdielynn and New York savvy Frank you can come up with.
“It’s not that bad!” I said to Birdielynn.
“Frank, it’s time to go. I can feel it in my feathers. We’re at the point of no return. And you know what happens to whippoorwills who stay too long.”
Together we recited, “Don’t outstay your welcome or you’ll die in a freak snowstorm.”
“I know, Birdielynn, stop bugging me. I just have one more project to finish up before the season’s through.” I said.
“You can finish your novel in Argentina! Jesus, Frank, they have books there too.” Birdielynn was pissed.
Last year we’d nearly missed the migration because I wasn’t finished mentoring Cardi B on how to molt properly. I know what you’re thinking. Not the pop star. Cardi B stands for Cardinal Bird. But she really loves it when people mistake her for the rapper.
But I digress. I’m no dummy; I read the Farmer’s Almanac. Snow isn’t coming for at least a month. And she knows it.
You swipe the birdseed to your side of the nest with your good wing. “It’s not that bad,” you plead to Birdielynn.
Birdielynn looks at you with daggers in her eyes and you recoil at her sharp gaze. “It’s time, god damn it, Frank!” She starts ranting about freak snowstorms and whippoorwills who get caught in them. You think to yourself, Nah, urban legend! I could fly out of a snowstorm if I needed to. Besides, you have a novel to finish and you want to get it just right before you pack up for Argentina.
You realize you may be slightly at fault for her paranoia. Last year you nearly got left behind in a huff of underfeathers because Cardi B was having a struggle learning how to molt. It’s not difficult, Cardi, you sigh disgustedly. Fucking cardinals. They think they are so cool because they’re the state bird of Ohio. Ohio! Come on. It’s a flyover state with a few good colleges. And The Ohio State University. And buckeyes. No, those aren’t the same. Buckeyes are a chocolate peanut butter hybrid of delights that, once you place one upon your beak, you’ll never forget it.
Birdielynn and Frank appeared to be in a standoff.
“It’s time!” She chirped shrilly.
“Birdielynn, calm down! No need to ruffle your feathers! We will be absolutely fine, I promise.” Frank tried to appeal to Birdielynn’s softer side, “Don’t you want to see the first snow? It could be so romant–“
“Won’t you be too busy writing that novel, Frank? I mean, that’s why we’re here, right? Or was that just an excuse?” She snapped back.
“Besides,” Birdielynn continued, “You know what happens to whippoorwills who stay too late in the season.”
Frank motioned with both wings. “I would never let you get caught in a freak snowstorm, my sweet worm catcher. I love you too much, my little nest snuggler.” Birdielynn just rolled her eyes.
She had reason to be ruffled. Frank almost ruined last year’s migration because he insisted on teaching Cardinal B how to molt the right way. Birdielynn wondered how Cardi B had made it this far in life without knowing how. It seemed ridiculous.
But Frank was her mate for life. She knew it. He knew it.