The sound of a bird I had never heard before. I didn’t even know for sure if it was a bird. It was calling–Ceeaw! Ceeaw! Ceeaw! and I stopped short. I looked out at the fire escape. The window was open on the bottom. I stood on high alert, felt this was a meeting, and an important one.
“I hear you, but I don’t see you,” I said.
Then he showed himself, flew up on the the railing, as I gasped. He looked at me, then flew off. A magnificent Bluejay. It felt personal, that he had come booming out of the cold milky Manhattan sky to my fire escape, just as I stood there, to tell me something, just at the last moment of bearability. And I got it.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
A radiating warmth filled my consciousness, and for the first time in so very long, the fear was gone.
“Please come back,” I said.
The next day, today, I heard him again, calling to me. I raced to the kitchen window and he did the same thing. Looked at me, then flew off in such a perfect curved arc, his blue-black wings so perfect and striking. In all our years of feeding the birds on the fire escape, I’d never seen any other bird but pigeons and brown doves. (Whom I love.)
I told Dean, who is teaching me how to pray: I got two signs.
“Don’t secularize them,” he wrote.
I never doubted this bird for a moment. He came to give me a message. Twice. I was so moved. I began waiting for him, by the window. Why did I know he would return. I was out of seeds and there as no food in it for him.
“Live!” he cried. “You must live!”
He knew I was choking to death on ugly modernity, and that I had committed the sin of despair in recent days.
“Look at me,” he said. “I’m the truth.”
(It would have been funny if he said, “Forget Twitter,” but he didn’t. I don’t think my majestic friend would ever say “Twitter.”)
It was only when I thought of him that I felt a spark of hope.
Then I heard him again, late this afternoon. I dashed to the window and saw him yet again. Three visits, in two days. Tears came into my eyes.
I held onto the bars of the window gate and looked at the sky where he had flown off.
Three visits. I wondered why he seemed so familiar. The way he needed to get ahold of me. Just like Guy used to sound on the phone.
“Guy?” I said. “Is that you?”
Guy Alexis Obolensky.
He always said I had to make it. I had to do my work again. I had to write, and that we both had to survive this cruel age. At the very least, survive the winter, so he could re-build the machine in the spring.
The last time he called me I was on another call.
His death broke me. I lay on my back sobbing and unable to move when I got the text from John.
All winter–fossilized by grief. Nothing mattered, not The Truth Barrier–nothing.
When I publish a piece called “The Machine Whisperer,” you will know who he was.
I told him over and over that he could not leave me here alone.
Also, in life, he came flying in like that, in blue, in his famous blue smock. He shook my hand so warmly. It was the beginning of the most important friendship of my life. A gift I did not deserve.
If the bird does not come back, I will remember him, and his message, to be brave, and good. As he is.