by Dave Early
She’s perched on the edge gazing out into the blue. She shivers in the breeze and pulls herself in tight.
He spies her from afar. Without speaking he settles himself mere feet away. She maintains her posture, undisturbed, still looking out ahead of her.
He edges closer. Sidestepping. Cartoon-casual. She doesn’t flinch.
He stretches, thrusting out his chest, searching for a trick, a way in. She turns her head in his direction.
To a passer-by, a fleet-footed flyer, they look like young lovers. Caught by the excitement of courtship. How long have they been together, the spectator might query.
The tips of their faces are touching. Their necks bob and rotate rhythmically, routinely. She pulls back, possibly for air, possibly questioning his motives, possibly plain old guilt. Whatever the conditioning, the irrelevance, she breaks the connection.
He stares hard at her then swings his body away. He takes a couple of steps, opening the gap between them. She holds her ground, looking on, upset, hopeful, repentant. Ritual. Swiftly he spins round and pecks at her face again. They resume their dribbly dance as if nothing had happened.
This time it is he who severs the link. Her circles her. She follows him with her eyes. He continues to circle. It’s when she ceases her vigil, returning her view out across the void, that he pounces.
Balance and poise are everything. He beats down vigorously, making a show. Five, maybe six, beats then he’s off, strutting away from her, head held high, a proudly puffed pecks, the match winner. He’s all aglow. She hasn’t moved.
When he calms down, his chest deflated, the conquest over, he settles down on the edge. They sit ten feet apart.
So what now? A silent, mutual question.
Their bodies noticeably relax. They face front. Each aware of the other’s presence yet neither making acknowledgment. In unison they drop their eyes and look over the side. Down, down, down where life is small and insignificant. They hold this position and shudder.
Hours elapse, possibly days. Or is it years?
He stretches his back. Cranes his neck. He’s restless, bored. There are messages cascading through his body and mind. Messages so insistent, they negate the ability to formulate a plan of action. He rights himself, relaxes his neck, waits till she’s not looking… She never looks at him anymore. He doesn’t know how to deal with this. He isn’t sure if he’s bothered.
He saunters up, sidestepping, like he used to. It should work like it used to. Less arduous pretence this time.
He’s on her. Like before. She shakes him off. She’s angry. He flies into the air, hurling himself backward, out of reach of her ire, protesting his innocent via placatory gestures. All right. All right. Calm down. Jeez.
He’s back in his old position. The distance between them is greater. Fifteen feet… and rising.
Their heads are no longer hung over the edge. They no longer search the wreckage below. They glance about them. Ahead, behind, and to the side away from the other. But nobody moves.
Clouds assemble overhead. Light pierces dark and dark smothers light. The only movement on the elevated surface is the repetitive struggle… he tries to reclaim what he had. She wants nothing to do with it. Once was enough, thank you.
Then from out of the blue arrives a third party. An interloper. He is identical to his contemporary in size, weight, looks and charm. Dopplegangers. Except, this intruder holds the advantage.
She cannot see what her former lover can. The novelty of this stranger overwhelms her senses.
The stranger perches himself between the two. He edges closer. Sidestepping. Cartoon-casual. She doesn’t flinch.
He stretches, thrusting out his chest, searching for a trick, a way in. She turns her head in his direction…
The former lover looks askance. He shrugs. Looks around. Looks up to the nearby heavens. Steps to the edge and looks at the drop.
He turns. Pads his feet awhile. Pokes his posterior over the edge of the building and expresses his distaste in the only way he knows how. Then, without a second glance in the new couple’s direction, he spreads his wings, for the first time in decades, and takes to the sky.
Dave Early cannot be summed up in one sentence; one word perhaps, but not one sentence.