“You’re always going to blame me.”Christine stood there, looking down into the hole in the earth at her feet. She didn’t think it was big enough.
“It’s not your fault the bird flew into the fan, Christine.” Mike let his arm rise and rest on her lower back. She flinched, bending down quickly and placing the pink blanket entombed bird inside of the shallow grave. Mike’s hand fell back to his side. “Should I say something?”
Her hands started scooping the pile of loose soil, the pattern of small purple flowers slowly disappeared. “If you want to.”“Are you sure you want to bury him in that? We can wash it.”
“It’s been five years. I think I’ll survive without the blanket.” She patted down the earth firmly, waiting for him to say something. Anything.
“It’s not just any blanket though, Chris.”
“Were you going to say something about Cheeto or not?”
Mike exhaled air quickly the way he always did when his patience was fraying and the frustration was creeping in. “Cheeto, you were the most talkative parrot I…we every knew. I’m sorry I didn’t clip your wings last weekend, mate.”
“It’s not your fault.” Christine was talking at the grave.
“It’s not your fault either. It was an accident.”
“You’re never going to forgive me, whether you admit it or not.” A corner of the blanket poked out from the soil. Christine grabbed it and plunged it into the ground, quickly covering it with dirt. “I can’t even bury it properly.” She tried to wipe away the tears that had started to leak from her eyes, smearing deep-brown earth across her cheek.
“There’s nothing to forgive, Christine. I’m not even mad at you.”
The crying increased and before long she was crying uncontrollably, tears falling from her face onto the grave below.
Mike knelt beside her, putting his arm around her and pulling her to him. She rested her head on his shoulder, tucking her wet face against his neck.
He stroked her hair. “I don’t blame you.”
“I’m the reason she’s dead.”
“It’s not your fault.” He kissed her forehead. “The doctors said there was no reason—”
“I was carrying her. She was growing inside me.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Honey. I’m never going to blame you.” He held her and waited for the sound of her crying to eventually subside. “Go and have a shower, and I’ll finish up here.”
Mike watched her walk inside and waited for her to enter the house. Sweeping away the dirt, he gently unwrapped Cheeto and quickly reburied his orange-feathered body. He bundled up the blanket and carried it inside.
* * * * *
Any writing workshop or class I take tends to have assessments or required submissions as part of the program. This one is from a current course I’m taking with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program – Stories of Place: Writing and the Natural World. It’s not my intention to share a polished piece (I’d never share it if I wanted to edit it to perfection), so there may be grammatical or typographical errors.