018. Dancing Bluebird. Emmet Browne

The boy watches the bluebird do its shuffle along the grass. It is on the other side of the screen-door glass. The bird’s shuffle is like a dance. First, it hops, and then its head twitches left to right. Just outside the boy’s apartment and out in the parking lot is a rental car with a woman sitting in it. On the car stereo, “Baby, I Love Your Way,” by Peter Frampton, a favorite of the bluebird’s. 

The bird reminds the boy of Irish tap dancing, nature tours, farming, art appreciation, football games, and, most of all, birdhouse building.

The song reminds the woman sitting in the car of California beaches, trying to become an actress, and writing novels on loose-leaf. 

The bluebird stays by the window. The boy has never seen a bluebird in his apartment complex. When he thinks about it, there shouldn’t be bluebirds here at all. The bird stops doing its jig and watches him. Then hops once and takes flight, soaring over the tallest pine. The song ends — the woman cries. 

The boy goes to look through the photo album he wasn’t ready to open yet. Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings tickets. Van Gogh’s and Picasso’s. Prairie. California beaches. A slice of a novel written on loose-leaf. He and his mom standing beside a bluebird house they’d built.