Just as the sun was breaking a sound at the window woke him up. He raised his head to peer out at a street washed with grey light. Weak rays struggled through clouds and onto car windows. There was nothing there.
Only his garden with patchy grass and a mailbox bursting with flyers for cleaning ladies and bills he couldn’t afford.
He had been dreaming he thought, which was unusual. His head had filled with music from a faraway place. It was everything he had ever heard yet sounded like nothing at all.
Reluctantly he got up and slumped into his morning routine, checking off each item in his head as he went: shower, clothes, coffee, shoes, briefcase, keys, leave- and never look back.
Shutting the door of his brick house he stepped into cool air and breathed in sharply. He had a funny, twisted feeling in his gut that he couldn't shake.
As he took his first steps down the quiet street he was stopped by a small blackbird perched on the corner of his neighbours wire fence. It was watching him thoughtfully. He wondered how a bird could watch someone thoughtfully and stood perplexed while round yellow eyes bored into him.
He stared at it.
As he did it began to grow. Short, fluffy feathers grew long and sleek. Wings went from the size of his hand, to the size of giant palm leaves. He trembled.
The bird turning slowly stretched out in an arc and began to fly down the street. Warm air rushed out from beneath its wings and washed over him. He was beckoned forward by oily black feathers that reflected the clouds. There was rhythm to the birds’ movements. It welled up inside him, reminding him of his dream.
Lost in strange melodies and mesmerised by the feathery apparition, he walked. Each step matched the beat of the birds monstrous wings.
Past shadowy houses that were beginning to wake up, through to streets dotted with cafés serving coffee to morning people who sat outside reading newspapers.
The bird continued ahead, taking him, he knew now, to the place where the music came from.
He was surprised when they came to a stop.
When they stopped his feet had an itch that came from walking a long way and he felt uneasy standing still. He looked for the bird again. It was hovering across the other side of a busy intersection. The rhythm of its music was faster now. Stronger.
Someone had told him that true beauty finds you only once in a lifetime. He took a step. The bird beat its wings. He stepped again. His foot caught on the curb and he faltered, for a second he wondered whether he had stepped too far.
The bus that hit him carried with it a gust of greasy hot air.
His briefcase flew out of his hand and landed on an empty spot on the other side of the intersection.
The music was everywhere now. It flowed out of him in colourful trails and spun around like dust caught in a beam of sunlight.