The hummingbird in the freezer was the smallest of the birds. The largest was the crow. I wondered if they might be kept for the cats. Should I thaw one and feed them? Then I wondered if they might be for jewelry, as she kept a jewelry-making table in her study. I picked up the crow with both hands and held it out in front of me. Its feathers rustled in the draft from the freezer. Its head was bent at a hard angle, as if it had flown into a wall and broken its neck. Its legs were frozen to its breast. I put it back in the freezer and shut the door.
The next night, I ordered pizza. On accident, I opened the freezer, looking for ice, and I saw them again, between bags of peas and corn. I shut the door and stood there staring at a picture of her husband on the door, holding a fish he’d just pulled from the water. She stood behind him, looking, smiling.
In the bedroom, her breath was peaceful, dreaming. I emptied her bags, checked her levels and changed her pillowcases, selecting a pair with flower prints from the linen closet. She still wore simple, pearl earrings that sagged against her earlobes, the same she wore in her wedding photographs. Her jewelry box lay open on the dresser.
I slept on her couch, where I wasn’t kept awake by the moon coming in through the window. I laid my head on a pillow shaped like a black and white cat. I wrapped myself in a blanket with embroidered birds on it. I fell asleep with the image of her husband fishing in my head.
Sarah Gerard is an MFA candidate at The New School and contributing editor at Caper Literary Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, elimae, Caper Journal, DOGZPLOT, Stumble Magazine and the St. Petersburg Times. She specializes in children’s literature at a New York independent bookstore, McNally Jackson Books, and lives in Brooklyn with her partner, the artist Timm Mettler.