Nothing About Owls

Reading Time: 2 minutes
(Image by Anais Aguilera via Adobe Firefly.)

Minnie watches owls die atop the old pump house. Each one that lands there, on the corner of the caved-in roof, spams, falls. The birds tumble down, somewhere between the walls.

It’s summer, and Minnie’s twelve. This started two years ago. She is sure this will be the year that the structure’s boundaries cannot hold the mass of frozen feathers, preserved wings. The siding is as close as she can get. Not because she’s scared, which she is, but because it’s too cold. Even in summer.

She’s touched the edges before, had to get treated for frostbite. Her parents didn’t believe her – they put a lock on the freezer, called her bad girl.

Minnie crouches behind a log as another owl slides across the sloped and peeling shingles, disappears. This morning she drags a broken tree limb a mile and half into the woods. From fifteen feet away, she inches the branch toward the crumbling foundation. There is a hole. She pushes the end of the stick through. It’s stuck now, crystals forming up the bark, pieces crackling off.

This has to be the year the bodies crest the top of the structure, because her parents are selling the cabin. They keep saying, It’s changed, it’s changed, it’s not the same. Even when she says she doesn’t care how it used to be, that she likes it now.

They say it’s changed, but really, they’ve changed. Something about taxes, something about current use. Minnie has said, Just come to the pump house, you’ll see. She convinced her father to follow her, once – he stood and watched an owl die and just shook his head, started talking about politics. She’s taken photos, videos – no one online cares.

She lets go of the branch just before the ice snakes up her hands. She walks back to the summer cabin, a trail of solid water in her wake. She kicks the For Sale sign, argues with her parents. They say, We saw you knock it over. Minnie says, It was the ice. They say, We’re in a drought. She cries, takes off her mouse glasses, stomps on them. Her father says, You’re out of luck, we’re not going back to Disney. Something about the governor, something about the meteorological and political climate. Minnie says, I’m too old for this shit.

This would have been the first time she’s cursed in front of her parents. But just as she says shit, the pump house explodes, so they don’t hear her swear. Instead, they hear, and feel, glass in the kitchen windows shatter.

The police come. Something about an old gas line, something about improper decommissioning. Nothing about crystals. Nothing about owls. Nothing about change.


Edited by a Fallon Clark and Sophie Gorjance.

Thomas Mixon has poems and stories in Epiphany, Channel, Lost Balloon, and elsewhere. He's a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. He's trying to write a few books.