Heirloom Birds

by

Laura Eno

Jim adjusted the calling birds on the tree – again. They wouldn’t hang right. What was the point of spreading all this work out over twelve days anyway? Why not just hang all of the ornaments at one time, like normal people?

He sighed. Marcie had begged him to follow her family’s tradition of hanging each set during the Twelve Days. She even presented him with the traditional ornaments handed down through her family.

This was to be their first Christmas together as a married couple and Jim wanted to please her. Maybe next year she’d let him go back to the tried and true way.

Another bird fell to the floor. Grumbling, Jim picked it up, examining the hook. He felt eyes watching him through the front window.

Turning to catch whomever had the temerity to spy on him, Jim found the front lawn empty. The world outside held nothing but graceful, snow-covered trees and a white lawn, while one desperate bird scratched for a meal.

He wondered if he’d filled the birdfeeder recently, then went back to his onerous chore. Who would have thought that four lousy birds would give him so much trouble?

Marcie had mentioned something about hanging them with reverence, or some such nonsense. She’d even taught him a silly little poem to say as he adorned the tree each day.

The first three days he’d recited it, feeling silly each time he did so. This morning Jim decided to forego the rubbish, refusing to utter the words lest he become as batty as her relatives were by the twelfth day.

A second calling bird fell off while he’d been gazing out the window. What was with these damn birds? He looked at the partridge gracing the top, the two turtledoves nesting side-by-side, the three French hens. They were just as he’d left them.

While contemplating whether he should just step on the fallen ornament, Jim felt the eyes again. Spinning back to the window, he found no one. A second bird had joined the first, calmly pecking in the snow and paying him no mind.

A clatter behind him caught his attention. Bird number three lay on the floor, its little claw feet pointing skywards, much as if it were dead.

Jim felt the blood of anger pounding at his temples. He was going to have a vicious headache by the time he was done. Stooping to grasp the wretched bird, he felt the prying eyes pull at him.

Looking at the window from between his legs, all Jim saw were three scrawny birds, hopelessly digging for a frozen worm. Straightening, he stomped over to the window.

“See if I ever fill your feeder again.”

Clank. Jim knew without turning that the fourth bird now lay on the floor. Fine. They could stay there for all he cared.

As he continued to watch the miserable birds outside, a fourth flew down to join the others. As one, they turned to look in the window, fixing their beady little eyes on him.

Jim was so mesmerized by the birds outside, he never knew what hit him when the attack came from behind.

BIO:  Laura Eno (http://lauraeno.blogspot.com) has written two YA fantasy novels and a paranormal romance.  Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Twisted Dreams, The Monsters Next Door, Flashes in the Dark, 10Flash, House of Horror, The New Flesh, Everyday Weirdness and MicroHorror.

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52 Comments »

  1. 1
    Kathleen Gilbert Says:

    Laura,

    Those birds are just plain creepy. For some reason I’ve always been sort of scared of birds anyway. Now you have me watching over my shoulder. Great fun story.

  2. 2

    Elegant, spare, with a dash of spooky. Hitchcock would be jealous.

    You are masterful, Laura!

  3. 3
    Laura Eno Says:

    Thanks, Kathleen and Marisa. Yes, birds can be spooky and creepy. 🙂

  4. 4

    Laura,
    I never saw that coming. Creepy little birds, aren’t they?

    Great read! Great job!

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Eno, Laura Eno. Laura Eno said: Jim Wizneski's Twelve Days, Day Four is up with my story, Heirloom Birds http://bit.ly/4UdBNN […]

  6. 7

    Ah… never ignore the family traditions.. 🙂 Great creepy birds, we all love creepy birds!

  7. 9

    Never piss off nature. Good stuff, Laura.

  8. 11

    …GOOD evening…[raspy breath] This is so Hitchcock. Or when BIRDS GO WILD…hahaha. Sweet tale Laura.

  9. 13

    Who would have thought that decorating the Christmas tree could be turned into a suspensful story. Great job, Laura!

  10. But, but ….the poem? I wanted to hear the poem….

    giggles while she pictures Laura scrambling madly for a rhyme for “calling bird.” um….mauling _________ hmmm drawing a blank.
    Great start to my Thursday.
    Thanks!
    Karen :0)

    PS …Jim, this was an AWESOME idea for the holiday season

  11. 17

    Revenge of the Christmas birds! Scary. And funny. I like it.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

  12. 19

    Brilliant title Laura and yes, traditions are there to be followed. Better to be a little batty than dead. Do you know of anyone who has a crazy tradition like this – to trim their tree according to the 12 days of Christmas.

    You fit so much in with so few words. To echo another commenter – you are masterful Laura. And always so enjoyable.

  13. gotcha! serves the bugger right. excellent tale laura!

  14. 23

    Yes! An evil bird story. Perfect for Christmas. There are some traditions we keep just because. Others we keep so we may live. Jim learned the hard way.

  15. 25

    Birds are quite creepy, and you captured that here beautifully. Good story!

  16. 27
    Sam Says:

    I’m beginning to wonder whether I ought not to take a closer look at my family’s Christmas traditions after reading this, or whether I should leave them well alone!

  17. 29
    Erin Cole Says:

    I love bird stories, because they can be cute, irritating, or down right Hitchcock. Nice buildup to a mysterious ending.

  18. 31
    Chadwick Says:

    Always remember to recite those words

  19. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lauraeno: Jim Wizneski’s Twelve Days, Day Four is up with my story, Heirloom Birds http://bit.ly/4UdBNN

  20. 34

    ahh Look out! crazy birds attacking…
    What a great story love the title.

  21. 36

    Wow. That was cool! As always Laura.

  22. 38
    ~Tim Says:

    Ooh. sounds like the five golden rings could turn out to be brass knuckles!

  23. 40
    jimcast Says:

    Between you and Jack I had to keep focus on my Christmas tree to be reminded that Christmas is good time of the year! Or maybe it was because I’m too afraid to look away from the tree. . . wait, I gotta go. . . one of the calling birds just fell off. . .

    🙂

    Laura – thanks so much for writing for my project. . . you’re one of the bet out there and I’m glad to have your name apart of this!

    Jim

    • 41
      Laura Eno Says:

      Thank you so much for setting this up, Jim! I enjoyed writing this for your project and am glad to be a part of it! Sorry that my (late) protag shares the same name as you… 😉

  24. 42

    Leave it to you to turn the 12 Days of Xmas into a horror story. Very funny and beautifully written, as always.

  25. 44

    Shudder. Very creepy, Laura.

  26. 46
    2mara Says:

    Thanks, Laura… gonna have nightmares tonight :-/
    ~2

  27. 48
    Deanne Says:

    I’m going to go check my ornaments now…great story!

  28. 51

    Vengeful birds make for a very scary story. Thanks for sharing this brilliant bit of writing with us 🙂


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