When she heard the loud thump and saw a dark thing hit her picture window, Faith thought someone had thrown a rock at her house. She put down her pen and the crossword puzzle, took off her reading glasses, and rose from her chair, ready to give the damned kids a piece of her mind.
“Damned kids!” was what Frank always said in response to the unexpected incident, the annoying accident, the blameworthy episode—even when whatever had happened was clearly her fault. It was an expression that stayed with her, comforting her, through the years since Frank had been gone.
She ran to the window and looked up and down the street, but there was no one there, no tracks in the snow, not in her front yard, nor the neighbors’. Then she looked down, and there it was on the hard frozen dirt of the neglected window box: a smallish blackish brownish bird, a wild bird, a wintering bird. Faith did not know its genus or species. To her it was a poor little dead thing, lying there perfectly still.
She felt tears welling up.
It was her fault. The window was too big. She’d wiped it too clean. The light inside was too inviting. The house was in its way—the house she picked out and urged Frank to buy. The house they’d bought for a song twenty-eight years ago. The house built decades before that—directly in the path of this fated bird. […]