Bird of Paradise

The couple were on the beach that morning, and Harris was there observing them. He had to sit quietly and write down everything he could. First the obvious things, what they looked like, a simple physical description, body shape, age, facial features. What they wore, how they were with each other, what they did.

Then Harris had to try and work out their conversation. He knew he could risk walking next to them once or twice, but he couldn’t stay close enough to hear much, nor to pick up any detail, so he would have to guess most of it.

The male protagonist had mentioned something about the tide, but the female was more interested in the houses that lined the cliff top.  Harris could tell she was lost in a dream of living by the sea. Harris assumed they were in one of the many rented cottages in the village, they didn’t look like a couple who would bother with hotels.

Then Harris noticed his watch, and her tattoo. His watch was ridiculously big, more an orrery than a watch. Harris imagined it worked like a sundial, perhaps the gnomon could be flipped up when it was needed. And her tattoo, it was beautiful, a woodpecker, or a kingfisher, or maybe a bird of paradise.  But it was so alive, so real, and when it suddenly took flight and soared up, its blues and greens shimmering in the morning sun, the three of them stood, shielding their eyes, until the bird merged with the brightness of the sky.


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