Have you ever had one of those dreams where things seem rather normal but then suddenly there’s one detail that just doesn’t make sense, a little thing that makes you go “this isn’t really happening, is it?”. Last night I dreamed we had a dog. Great dream, great dog. Except after a while dream-me remarked to dream-spouse “huh, that’s odd. The dog never whines about needing to go out. Come to think of it… have we ever even taken him for a walk?” and then I realized I was dreaming. Such a random thing. Anyway… this little piece is inspired by those kinds of dreams. It’s a bit of an odd one. It sort of just… ends, I’ll admit. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to round off a snippet like this.
In hindsight, there were probably a lot of signs that something was wrong. The fact that I didn’t age, for one thing. That the baby would bang her head on the side of a table and wake up the next day with the bump completely gone. That every radio station played the exact same songs, in the same order. But in the end, it was the magpies.
It wasn’t something I noticed right away, at least not consciously. Rather, it was an accumulation of tiny subconscious noticings, an air bubble that swelled a little with each noticing until finally it was large enough to float up to the surface of my mind. All the magpies looked the same.
I know what you’re thinking – don’t all magpies look the same? And sure, yeah… they’re not known for a huge deal of variation of appearance. But I don’t mean they all looked similar. I mean they looked the same. The exact same size. The exact same proportions. The exact same level of fluffiness of feathers. The exact same ration of white to black feathers, and the exact same number of tail feathers that gleam green in the sun. The exact same squack, even. Little feathered carbon copies of one another, just hopping about as though they weren’t a glitch in the matrix. It freaked me out when I first realized – like seeing the edge of the world. It’s funny to think about it, now. What wouldn’t I give, now, to go back to the days when my biggest problem was freaky magpies?