Flocked Together

“Good luck, little guy,” Jeremy waved at the colorful bird he set free. It surprised him to see several flocks take to the air from the nearby trees to join the one he cared for. Each group was a different color and species. He recognized red robins, violet sunbirds, and every color in between. Their formation reminded Jeremy of a rainbow following the one he nursed back to health. “Looks like you were missed,” Jeremy chuckled to himself. Once the rainbow flew out of sight toward the sunset, he wandered back inside with dinner on his mind.

Jeremy’s home was small and isolated. He lived in a double-wide trailer just inside the forest. Technically, his grandfather left him a chunk of the forest and several acres between his place and the nearest town. He certainly did not need all that property, but he never bothered to put any effort into selling it. He felt a twinge of loneliness when he stepped back into his trailer. Jeremy missed the cheerful chirping that greeted him each time over the past three weeks.

The mid-30s man had not realized how much enjoyed the company until he did not have it anymore. He spent the evening eating and watching Roller Derby alone. While the bird was there they both cheered enthusiastically for their favorite team. He explained why the Magi-Knights were the greatest team ever to the injured animal. Jeremy knew it didn’t understand but it was nice talking to someone. He didn’t just discuss sports, he opened up to the bird about his whole life. When his evening was over, he went to bed.

Jeremy awoke to a buzzing alarm clock and a quiet dawn the next morning. He grew used to a cacophony of birds drowning out his alarm clock while he cared for the bird. It was decidedly more pleasant than the harsh staccato buzz of his clock. After his morning routine, he grabbed his briefcase and headed out the door. He walked to his red pickup and opened the door to get in.

“AAgHH!” A pair of bluebirds flew out of his cab at him. He panicked and used his black case to shield himself from the birds but they went around him and disappeared into the sky. “How the Hell,..” Jeremy noticed the back window of the cab was pried open at the same moment he caught the scent of fresh roses. He found a clump of fresh roses on his passenger seat. He sat on the driver’s side and picked one up, its thorns were missing. “Building a nest?” he wondered. “Ah well, free air freshener,” he decided to leave the roses there for now. As he drove, Jeremy decided the roses made his commute much more pleasant. Even though most of their perfume wafted out the window.

Not that it wasn’t already almost enjoyable. The cool October morning was perfect for driving with his windows down. He was startled again at a stoplight. A large black raven landed on his passenger window. It cawed angrily and accidentally dropped some scraps of paper it was carrying. The trash fell on the half-completed rose nest. Jeremy had just enough time to shoo the crow away before the light turned green.

Great, I help one bird and now I’m driving a trashcan,” he whined internally. At another stoplight several blocks from work, he spotted a black and gold hoodie. There were millions of hoodies like that, he owned one himself; but, he recognized the owner. She was a tall, slender woman with bright purple hair. The woman cut a path through the flowing crowd of pedestrians with long graceful strides. When the light turned green Jeremy drove forward just enough to catch up to the woman, then he slowed down. He tapped the horn just enough to get everyone’s attention. The strangers ignored him but the woman in the hoodie approached his truck.

“Want a ride for the last leg?” he asked. She eagerly nodded.

“Please,” she sighed with relief. “You wouldn’t believe my morning so far,” she said as she pulled the door open. Jeremy forgot about the roses until she spotted them.

“Oh crap! Sorry!” He shifted the truck to ‘Park’ and reached over to collect the flowers. She giggled and helped him collect the flowers.

“Hot date later?” she asked. “Or last night?” She grabbed the last of the roses and the scraps of paper, then managed to climb in and sit down. She put the messenger bag she used as a purse and briefcase on her lap, then the roses on top of that.

“I wish,” he said with a smile. “It was a couple of stupid birds that were trying to build a nest in my truck, I guess.” His passenger lifted one of the roses to her nose and inhaled deeply.

“Well, the roses are kind of nice, but the rest of the trash…,” she looked at the scraps of paper. “OH MY GOD!!!!” She shouted as Jeremy pulled forward; he immediately slammed on the brakes. Their momentum carried them as far as the seatbelts allowed and he looked at her with worry.

“What is it? You okay?” he asked. She was visibly shaking with wide eyes locked on the papers in her hand. She turned to Jeremy.

“You have to take me with you,” she said.

“What are you-,” Jeremy saw white scraps when the bird dropped them. He looked at them in her hands and noticed the other side was black and gold; the same colors as her hoodie. “Are those… tickets?” he asked.

“Front row,” she said. “Tonight. Magi-Knights vs. CyberRiot,” she shook her head. “I don’t know what you did, but I wish I could get on the birds’ good side like you, instead of them hating me.” Jeremy’s mind was racing, but he decided to focus on one thing at a time. Right now, he still had to get to work. He could marvel at the tickets later, right now they were safe in Cheryl’s hands. And, he had a date later too. Content with that knowledge, he started moving forward again.

“I doubt the birds hate you,” he said.

“Wanna know why I didn’t drive to work today?” she asked. Jeremy nodded. “I couldn’t. My car was covered with birds this morning. They didn’t move when I got in. They didn’t move when I started the car. They didn’t even move when I tried driving; it’s like they wanted to make me walk this morning.”

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