The church’s bells clanged in the winter air, a flock of sleeping pidgeons roused from their afternoon sleep by the toll of the hour. Rick looked toward the silhouettes of the departing flock and for a moment forgot all about Kathy and her temper. Those birds were free, small hearts rapidly thrumming in time with their busy wings as they found a new place to rest. To be able to flee like that, to take wing and suddenly abandon where he was; what a dream. Rick watched the birds break their group, flitting in the chilly wind and then there was only one, circling, unsure of where to land. That bird, that was him. Leaping and ready to soar, but then unsure of the next place to land, circling until the din of the bells stopped and it returned home. Who lives in a place like that? A place you have to escape regularly, but that you always come back to? Rick wanted to shout at that bird, but he shivered hard instead. It was freezing outside and he didn’t have his coat on because he left quick when Kathy started up again with her rising tone, a discord more frequent and upsetting than any church bells. It was probably safe to go back for now, at least to grab his jacket and maybe he would look again at the train schedules. See where he could go for the meager amount of money he had. Anyplace would be better than with Kathy at this point, even if she was pregnant and might change back to the woman he once loved. But then there would be a daughter, another Kathy screaming more than on the hour or ever half hour; shouting, crying, and berating until his nails dug crescent moons in his palms as he clenched his hands into tight fists. Rick wanted to be a smarter bird. Somewhere there was a better place to roost.
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