Feeding Time by Tara Isabel Zambrano

Almost spring, and a sparrow hits the fan and falls into the mutton curry while we’re having lunch. Papa says it’s something to do with feeding her chicks, the bird’s always in a hurry. I pick up and carry the stunned little creature to the bed where Papa and Ma don’t sleep together anymore.

Year after year these sparrows have been making nests in that corner of the living room―one morning a broken egg on the floor, yolk clinging to the fractured shell. The same week Ma woke up in a pool of blood and cried for weeks because it was a boy.

Every few days, Ma cleans the bird shit stuck on the floor and the wall. Back in the nest, the mother’s at attention, a rush of wings as if responding to Ma’s curses. Some days the sparrow sits on the fence, flies around, swoops this way and that, shows off.

Now the bird lies on her side, breathing hard, until she puffs her gravy stained chest and stands up. Before I help Ma to dispose the mutton curry―the only food we had because we’re down to single meals a day since Papa got fired last month, I check on her again―and sure enough she’s back in the nest, peeping at our empty dining table.

 

Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas. Her fiction has been published in Tin House Online, Bat City Review, Slice, Yemassee, and other journals. She works as a semiconductor designer in a startup and holds an Instrument Rating for single engine aircraft. She reads prose for The Common.

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