When Dad died, I talked to an ostrich.
In the waiting room, an ostrich sat down.
“Who let this ostrich in?” I said.
The janitor stared at me.
The ostrich stared at me.
The surgeon walked into the room. He tore off his white mask and put on a serious one.
“You don’t even have to say it,” I said.
The ostrich put his wing around me.
We didn’t have the greatest relationship, Dad and I. We didn’t talk. He treated me like shit. I loved him. I realized that after.
When he got sick… I walked closer to him, I sat closer. We still didn’t talk, but…
Then he died.
I wrote a letter. It said, I COULD REALLY USE A FRIEND. I mailed it to my friends.
No one got back to me.
One afternoon, there was a knock on the door.
I got out of bed. I got dressed.
I opened the door.
It was the ostrich.
He sat down on the sofa.
“I’ll make some coffee,” I said.
“I don’t remember Dad ever playing with me. He was always too old. Even when he wasn’t. He loved me. He never said it. I said it a lot when I was a kid, but … I didn’t mean it. Not really.”
You can tell an ostrich anything.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t open my eyes. I kept falling asleep. I kept dreaming.
I dreamed I was the last person on Earth. I felt so homesick. Even though I was home.
I crawled into bed—in my dream. I lay there.
Something touched my hair. Something tousled it. Like Dad.
I woke up.
I looked over.
There was something on the pillow, next to me.
An ostrich feather.
I looked out the window.
The sky was blue. I hadn’t noticed that. Not in a long, long time.
I made breakfast.
I swept the floor.
I opened the front door and closed it.
I heard something.
I ran back to the window.
I saw the shadow of the ostrich, on the lawn.
Just the shadow.
Then it was gone.
*First published in The Walrus.
*From an unpublished collection, Dream Museum.
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