For The Bird Graveyard Short Story Contest, there were plenty of submissions that made the most of an unorthodox prompt, which required contestants to select an image from the @birdgraveyard instagram account and write a story around it. Here are some of the best:
Cam woke up Aja for breakfast. She was already larking about the living room like the birds perched outside the window. Putting away the silver, grey and gold paints scattered on the table. Cam was a visual artist and Aja was a singer. They were both from Newark, New Jersey and keen on drinking soda.
They lived in Little Haiti in an apartment that was dimly-lit and rent-controlled. It was always overcrowded. Aja would frequently receive calls from friends and acquaintances from Los Angeles, Miami, Baltimore and New Jersey asking to visit for a few days. They always obliged. Aja always sang in the morning and Cam had a vibrant laugh.
Although both had their proper rooms, Aja and Cam always ended up sleeping together like sisters. The night before, Aja had confessed to Cam that lately she hadn’t felt safe enough to step outside. Not even for a walk or smoke. Cam couldn’t relate to this sentiment. She took the city bus everyday for the silliest tasks. Cam decided to solve this by casting a prayer that night. She would need to visit the religious goods stores for a red unscented candle. “Aja needed her desire back,” she thought to herself.
She ditched her headphones and took a different route to heighten her senses on her walk to the botanica. The commute was still familiar enough for her. She stopped by the corner store for coffee and to smoke a cigarette. As she was smoking she saw an etching on the concrete that said, “DRINK A MAN”
-Sofia J., Student
All his life, Edbird had wanted step-step wheels. Everyday he felt the step-step wheels of others press into his back as he coasted across seas of cement. The step-step wheels were no match for his own bi-cyclical model, but it wasn’t about the functionality. It was the thrill of a pair of Converse, Filas, Nikes, or Adidas to pause and turn their toes towards Edbird. One day, a pair of fur-lined loafers rode Edbird to a new part of town. He was face-to-face with two stagnant step-step wheels. Little did he know that the step-step-wheeled-mannequin had dreamed of nothing more than to join the Tour De France ever since they came out of their mold. “We could help each other,” they whispered to Edbird, “take me to the starting line of the race, and you may have my Louis Vuittons”. The moon rose high as the alley cats were in heat; it was time. Edbird, overcome with excitement, launched himself backward towards his dreams in a three-second euphoria: this was his escape from the mundane. Shattered dreams and glass shards smothered the alliance. Edbird swayed upside down, watching the red shoe which had been launched into the busy street, dance with yellow car after yellow car. He would never step-step, but cherished the sweet caress of the mannequin. The New Spring 2019 Collection was archived in a memoriam to the ill-fated friends whose dreams brought about their destruction.
-Charlie Leavengood, Student
Richard’s helmet was killing him. The straps were chafing at his neck like sandpaper, and the insular effect the helmet had on his scalp made it feel like the upper half of his head was in a sauna, hair soaked in sweat. If only I had just paid for parking, he lamented to himself. The night before, he had gone to a concert for this washed-up rock band Lisa had loved, for truly no good reason, and decided to forgo paying for parking in the lot of the amphitheater, instead parking behind the fast-food restaurant across the street. When he had left, just before the encore, it was gone, and he’d have to pay three-hundred-dollars that he didn’t have to spare to get it back. Such foolishness. He thought it would bring back feelings from the good times, when they had gone together and left halfway through to get greasy bar food, because truthfully, the band couldn’t play a live show to save their lives. Five years had passed since those times, and the band had only gotten shittier, and Lisa had been dead for three of them. He couldn’t discern exactly what had possessed him to skip work, where he needed to make the money to get his car back, and take one of those flimsy rent-a-scooters to her grave. Maybe it was the feeling that he owed her an apology, for continuing to screw up, even after he had sworn to himself that he’d get better, because it’s what she would have wanted. He’d quit drinking, smoking, and gotten a steady job, for now at least. But things seemed the same as they ever were, hopeless and confusing, every event in the last few years feeling like it had been orchestrated for the express purpose of making him question “Why?” When he got to her grave, he had nothing to say, probably because he had known, through being with her for almost all of his twenties, that she’d never demanded anything from him that she couldn’t do herself. They were both flawed people. But Richard had contemplated many times over that the world would be better off if their places were reversed. Yet he was the one standing before her grave, on a scooter with enough battery to only make it halfway home, and the only thing he could think of to comfort himself was that he was the only one who still stood before it every now and then.
-Christian Wing, Student