Fish Owl and Ruddy Kingfisher

The day after the typhoon, the sky shines like a freshly painted wall. I walk through the puddles of dry, yellowing leaves; for once, my mind feels clear as a diamond. My plans for the afternoon open up before me like huge-petaled and cream-colored flowers. I am wearing the too-big burnt orange coat and checkered scarf my father bought me two winters ago; at the door, Strawberry had stopped to knot the scarf carefully around my neck. In such armor, in such sunlight, I am immediately king-sized.

I ripple through the people clustered around the station, boarding the green train line just seconds before it swings away. I stand by rows of commuters lost in the rich, singular worlds generated by their sleek mobile phones. Through the windows, I see smears of the city after rain: the gray concrete glittering like a gemstone. I imagine leaping drunkenly from my body, my arms swinging forward like the wings of a ruddy kingfisher. Joyous and unashamed. Too often, if I am a bird, I am not the kingfisher, but the fish owl. Alone, encased in the rotting tree trunk of a faraway forest. My mind self-flagellated into a bloody pulp. It feels good, for one spell-binding day, to escape the confines of such dark philosophy.