The Colors Birds See

I found the red-winged blackbird behind a pickup truck in the apartment parking lot. One wing bent and bleeding, she crowed defiantly as I approached. Blackbird stared me down with dark, round eyes, her feathered breast heaving, her mouth cracked open. It was summer in Texas, and the air near the concrete ground shimmered. I ran inside and returned with a towel and shoebox. Five minutes later, we left the parking lot in my Monte Carlo from the nineties, heading to the wildlife rehabilitation center thirty miles away. I hoped that somebody there could rescue Blackbird or, at the very least, provide a calm death. The working veterinarian gave me papers to sign, release forms that gave the center permission to treat Blackbird, as if she became mine when I interfered with nature’s plans. Continue reading

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Mimi and Her Ouija Board

When I lived in Vermont as a tween, my family rented the Hope House in picturesque Castleton. It was built 165 years ago by a local legend well-known for his landscapes. The property is now owned by Castleton State College, and perhaps that’s a good thing …

The Hope House, Courtesy of Castleton State College.

Hope House, courtesy of Castleton State College

 

Inspired by rumors that students of the Victorian-era medical college robbed graves, my brother and I liked to pretend that dead doctors still scoured the town for body parts.

We had a babysitter named Mimi who only came really late at night (as tweens, we were perfectly safe during the day!). A thirty-something, rather lovely woman with hair to her waist, a pretty pierced nose, and intensely blue eyes, she behaved more like a big sister than an authority figure, and we loved her. One night, we told Mimi about our macabre games and begged her to summon ghosts with us. Together, we drew an Ouija board on red construction paper with a Sharpie marker. Then, we dimmed the lights and stacked our hands on a polished stone over the makeshift board.

“Come spirits, come spirits!” Mimi said. “Speak to us!” Suddenly, the stone moved quickly, as if possessed. It spelled:

 

C
L
E
A
N

 

Y
O
U
R

 

R
O
O
M

 

Mimi was a joker. She’s still playing a joke on us, actually, with my parents’ cooperation. They say we never had a babysitter, even late at night.