"Can you help me?"
That's the kind of thing friends do, but I could have said "No".
After all, I hadn't been writing to this woman, and then invited her to fly over.
What on Earth was he expecting.
So they came around to my little cottage, where I made a meal, consumed in front of an open wood fire, and he went away, leaving me with the guest, and plans to return in the morning to take her to the airport.
I was not impressed.
Alone by the romantic fire, I was asked, "Would you like sex?"
The red pantyhose were bright, but the woman was not my type, and I didn't know her, and may never have spoken with her, normally.
We never know who will fall from the sky into our lives, or why.
My decline of "No" was simple enough, and there the matter sank, with no hassles as the stars and Moon swirled overhead.
Rising early to put on the oats, to let them soak in boiled water for a time, I was puzzled by the sound of a bird.
It seemed to be trapped in the ceiling cavity of the sloping kitchen roof.
The guest fell out of dreams unknown to greet the morning aromas.
And then the friend arrived and we had hot and much appreciated oats, and chatter, until red pantyhose was taken away to the airport.
Alone in the quiet of the cottage, the sound of the bird could be heard, again.
What to do?
I listened carefully for the location, and with hammer began to claw the ceiling board open, so the trapped bird could escape.
But no bird came out.
It seemed to move away from the opening, so I tried to follow the sound of the flapping wings.
Now over by the wall, above the shelves.
Above the cardboard packet of oats.
I listened to the packet, and sure enough, the bird was in there, scrabbling away at the inside of the packet, trying to get out.
Thoughts of repairing the ceiling passed by like a cloud.
I should have looked in the oats packet first, which I now took outside, and emptied onto the ground.
That was when the mouse ran away and into the garden, to vanish into the shrubbery.
The mouse with wings had been scrambling away in the packet with its little claws, trying to escape, sounding for all the world like a bird with wings.
I had wondered what those black spots were in the oats cooked for breakfast.
I never told my friend.Note ~
This story is set in the Writer's Cottage at 1 Kelly Street, at the top of Kelly's Steps. What a neat way to launch the short stories, in a cottage that would later become a writer's in residence with the Salamanca Arts Centre. I also had a studio in the Arts Centre, a rambling complex of colonial sandstone warehouses, with bars on the windows of the ground and first floors. There may be further story fodder in those stones.
The Artist's Cottage ~ 1 Kelly Street, Battery Point, Tasmania ~