Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 37
Summer Solstice, 2020

New Works

Thea Swanson

Eggie Finds Her Voice

Eggie sits on her bedroom floor, organizing. She has separated her doll clothes, makeshift and few, into dresses, pants and hair accessories, stacking each in a pile. She glances around her room, wishing for compartments for each, but can only find a corner and designates a few inches of carpet per category. Yes, this will do. Outside her room, on this Wednesday evening, on the other side of the closed bedroom door, the remainder of the apartment is in complete silence. Dottie is "out" and has been out for two days. Peanut butter on white bread was dinner, the jar scraped clean. It is winter, so Eggie knew to place her boots and wet socks near the vent after her return from school, warm air drying them. This life of self-sufficiency, Eggie knows. But still, she is seven and not completely vibrant, and a little off-kilter.
As she stands from working at her spot in the corner, fists jammed into her hips, assessing what else she might accomplish, she is startled by a loud flapping just outside her window. An extraordinary sight, to see a bird of any kind between the narrow alley of two apartment buildings, and on a winter night. Animate objects, other than humans on streets and in class and the occasional dog, Eggie does not know.
Eggie screams, which in itself startles her because she doesn't scream or speak, not out loud. Putting her hand to her mouth, she screams again, just to see if she can, and she can. Eyes bright and wide, she stares at the crow, a large black thing, blacker than black. The crow flaps its great wings, and from this vantage, Eggie can see all that it is, but she needs to see more. Pushing up the pane, she is slammed with a gust of winter wind and a tail feather. Closing the pane to keep out the cold, Eggie turns to surprising quiet. The crow rests atop her bedpost. Eggie is both afraid and enchanted. The crow only blinks.
"Are you hungry?" Eggie asks, and in hearing her own clear voice, a full, coherent, even mellifluous sentence, she gets the hiccups. "I'll be right back," she says to the bird, once, then once again, louder than necessary, as if one hundred birds were before her, as if her voice must carry through an amphitheater. She closes the door and races to the kitchen. On the counter is a packet of sunflower seeds, still in shells, brought home from Dottie's nights out, for sale at the bars. Eggie grabs the packet and runs to her room, slowly opening the door, hoping the bird wasn't angry or afraid when she was away. "Here you are, birdie." Eggie tears open the plastic and pours the hulled mound on her carpet next to her bed, then scoots back to give the bird space. The crow jerks its head in the direction of the seeds, then jerks its head to Eggie, blinks, and alights on the rug, facing the food and the girl. Eggie is bursting with joy, that this creature accepts her offering, that it was the right choice, that she should fill a need. "Thank you, bird." The crow pecks its beak into the mound again and again, blinking at Eggie between swallows.
As Eggie relaxes further into the moment, as all her guards are down, she feels herself content and sleepy, and she lets herself cry a tear because today is her birthday, and she realizes she was given many grandiose gifts: a friend, her voice, and the knowledge of her calling in life. As her eyelids get heavier while the crow munches, she says aloud three times as she curls on her side on the carpet, as her eyes roll back while she swoons at the sound of her voice, "I am The Giver. I am The Giver. I am The Giver."

Thea Swanson holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Oregon. She is the founder and editor of Club Plum Literary Journal, and her flash-fiction collection, "Mars," was published by Ravenna Press in 2017. Thea's work can be found in many journals including Fiction Southeast, Mid-American Review and Chiron Review. Thea writes daily while riding the bus and ferry.