Perched

          Oh, how I want to move, to finally stretch my limbs and open my wings. I want to fly. But the boy in the street below stares straight at me. He's been watching for twenty minutes, rocking on his heels, lapping absently on a green lollipop, and he seems utterly incapable of blinking. Move along now, shoo. Scram!      

          My legs cramp and my tail aches against the cold masonry. Two hundred years we’ve waited, holding perfectly still, for this day. For the bell toll of noontime, and the end of the vigil. My dry eyeballs sting and I thirst to bend the rules, to simply blink, perhaps furrow my brow at that little pest down there, to bare my teeth. But I refrain. They are not allowed to see us move. His mother hovers nearby, lost in conversation with her ear toy. Shoo, says I!

          What captivates this child so? Or ails it? Surely he’s the only human looking up at this moment. He behaves as though he’s never seen one of us.

          The others depart already. I see my siblings far up in the sky, formations flocking north. We’ll gather at midnight in the old ring of stones placed by our ancestors, where we’ll sing until dawn. The vestibule will open and, finally, we’ll go home. The last ones to return.

          As if to test me, my horns itch like fire. I grip the parapet, talons piercing limestone. The boy cocks his head with squinted eyes. I suck in a breath and hold it, teeth clenched. Who would know if I cheated? Who watches us, really? I know not who made these bygone rules, or why in Sol’s name we ever agreed to tend this surveillance in the first place.

          My gut growls with two centuries of hunger. I could start with those curious eyes of yours, boy. Though I’ve heard the inner thigh is a delicacy, especially in child meat. I shut out the blasphemous thought, and picture instead the forests of home, letting our one song fill me. I long to sing it again, loud enough to make stones bleed.

          As I’ve waited so long, I can wait a few minutes more. The boy will leave soon. Then we’ll decamp. I wonder, for the first time since I was a pup, what these people will do when we are gone. We are the last guard and our covenant is expired. Who will protect them now?

          I wait here, perched in the same position that I began long ago, with my chin in my hands and my tongue sticking out at this world.






Click here to listen to Andrew S. Fuller reading "Perched"






Andrew S. Fuller grew up in Nebraska and other places, climbing trees and reading books. His fiction appears in Abyss & Apex, Fantastic Metropolis, and Every Day Fiction, among other journals. The Circus Wagon was released this Fall from Damnation Books. His screenplay Effulgence won the Best Screenwriter Award at the 2009 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, with the short film screening at festivals the following year. He is founder and editor of Three-Lobed Burning Eye magazine. He lives in Portland, where he climbs rocks and writes stories. Learn more at www.andrewsfuller.com and Twitter @andrewsfuller.


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