Chiree, chiree, chiree a killdeer’s warning pierces the crisp morning air. With a hop and scuttle she moves sideways from our approach. We step onto mottled, ashen-yellow, and grey pavement, the color of her body. She drags an extended wing behind her.
“Look,” I whisper to my friend Wayne. “Is she injured?”
“No, she’s okay. She’s pretending to be hurt. Her nest is nearby. Let’s take a look.”
We walk to the nest while the killdeer continues her charade. Unprotected on the pavement, the nest includes several blades of withered, sun-bleached grass with a few pebbles and cracked eggshells to keep the baby birds together.
Wayne turns to me. “She wants to distract us from her nest. Let’s oblige.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
He limps through the narrow isle of the dining car favoring his left leg. The train sways to the right and delivers him sideways into the cracked, red vinyl seat across from me.
“How you doing?” I greet my tablemate.
“Not well. I’m going to Kansas to bury my mother.”
“Oh, I’m sorry for your loss…”
“Thank you. My problem was finding someone to care for my cats while I’m away.”
“Was her death unexpected?”
He runs his fingers through thin grey hair. “Mom lived alone since the divorce. I moved to Arizona years ago. Just last week I had to take them to the vet. They’re much better now. It’s a big job to care for cats when you live alone.”
“Did you see your mother often?”
“I used to drive sixteen hours to Kansas without a rest until I sideswiped a guardrail. Now I take the train. My brother is looking in on the cats while I’m gone.”
“Will your family be at the funeral?”
He leans back. “Mom didn’t want any special arrangements. She didn’t like to fuss. Raindrop is the oldest, then Fluffy, Tiger, and Felix. I miss them already. It’s hard to be away from them when you live alone.”
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg writes fiction, creative non-fiction, self-development, and career counseling articles. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.