By Grace Andreacchi
We found him lying by the side of Highway 91 under a light coat of snow. He was wearing only printed cotton pyjamas, his blond hair was caked with ice, he was certainly dead. We put him in the back of the van and drove home. When we got home we brought him into the house and lay him down in front of the hearth. In no time he was sitting up, ruffling his grey-orange wings before the fire to dry them out. He didn’t speak our language, nor any of the other languages we tried on him. He may have understood a few words of Italian, for he smiled when Paulus, the musical one in the family, said allegro ma non troppo, but why he should smile at that is hard to see, so perhaps he didn’t understand after all but only liked the sound of it.
He stayed with us for many years. He neither spoke nor ate. As time went by he grew sadder and sadder. He never grew any older, but always retained the appearance of a child of five. He could play any musical instrument to perfection, simple melodies none of us had ever heard before. But don’t think it was always easy. He had his moods. Black moods in which he would break things, especially phonograph records. Then take off and wander around town, frightening us all, not coming home till dawn, followed by all the birds of the neighbourhood. They flocked so thick on the lawn you couldn’t see the grass at all – the whole lawn seemed to shiver and sing – they perched so thick on the trees the branches broke with their weight. Later we had to call the tree man to haul the branches away.
He died fifteen years to the day that we had found him. He walked out into the snow and lay down and died quite suddenly. His eyes were turned to glass his skin to white wax. We weren’t sure where to bury him or what to put on the tombstone, but while we were still discussing it among ourselves the body dissolved in the morning sun. When we went to look for him we found only a rainbow-coloured pool of sweetly scented water. It was an unusually warm day for December. All over town the snow was melting, the birds were singing. The angle-water ran off with the melting snow. We managed to retrieve a cupful, and keep it still in the deep-freeze. You never know when it might come in use.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Andreacchi is an American-born novelist, poet and playwright, author of the novels Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Her work appears in Eclectica, Word Riot, Pen Pusher and many other fine places. She lives in London and writes a regular literary blog Amazing Grace.