5 May, 2016 • • Creative Writing

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He was cutting corners in the fog when the bird hit the windscreen. Its gizzard skittered back and forth between furious wiper blades. This he remembers. And the goddamit, the hard shoulder, the envelope he found to scissor-pick the creature off the glass. And there was the sound of it against the moor: a thud like a punch in the ling. And then, nothing, but him, the bloodied letter, his address dissolving in the driving rain.
He remembers too, the last time he was on high ground gathering crowberries and honey fungus, laughing with her at lapwings barrel-rolling in the blue; a time when foraging was fun and the promise of good fortune came in many colours, not just black and red.
What he doesn’t remember is how the mud went from soft beneath his soles to cinching him at the waist, the verge gone, and why he never thought to retrieve the bird, show her it could be like before. Then she might smile again, eyes glossy like the leaflets she leaves him slipped between the other final demands. But he’s sunk too far, the peat is gritty against his lips.
Then he sees it – a red flush unfolding amongst the bracken curls, testing the concertina of its wings. He fans his hands upwards and it crashes –gobackgoback – into the air but he clutches at its talons, and in a spray of earth, they soar into the sky, the mist as bright and fresh as a clean sheet.


Mary-Jane Holmes’ work has appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Prole, JMWW, The Tishman Review, Firewords, The Lonely Crowd, Lute and Drum, The Incubator, and others. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2014 and will be published in The Best Small Fictions 2016 edited by Stuart Dybek this Autumn. She has been an article contributor at Flash Fiction Chronicles and The Lonely Crowd and is currently studying for an Mst in Creative Writing at Kellogg College, Oxford University.