Every Bird Casts a Shadow by Alexandra N. Kontes

Every Bird Casts a Shadow

Alexandra N. Kontes

Dear Sir:

You know that green hat in your new story? Well, you can’t have it. It’s mine. I’ve already started cutting the words green hat out of the copies of your books at Barnes and Noble, so you are just going to have to think of something else to write. People won’t buy the book if it’s all cut up, as you know. You probably thought it was just any old green hat, but you were wrong. Let me set the scene for you. Please excuse the exposition. It’s the only way to tell a story that I never want to tell again.

It’s October 2001. All up and down Main Street, flags are half-staff. Images of airplanes slamming into the twin towers permeate every radio and television broadcast. Parents stand in long lines at CVS, stocking up on Hershey Bars and Kisses for their children who are still too terrified to go to school, much less trick-or-treat. Out in the world, their hearts race and their palms sweat. Every airplane is a potential bomb. Every bird casts a shadow. At home though, people manage to turn off the televisions and radios. They go through the motions, and make it to the next day. It is Indian summer. They leave their windows open because they have no reason not to.

I left my window open too. I had no reason not to. I remember that he smelled like laundry detergent. He said, “Say you like it, Bitch.” He said, “Watch your teeth.” He strangled me, and then he put me in the closet, naked. He said, “If you come out of the closet, I will kill you.” And then he laughed. And he got away. But not before he took my hat.

Yes, that hat, the one in your story. Was it in the woods at the golf course, or did you find it along the side of the road? Did you notice the stitching? Did you notice how soft it is? Did you notice how it is starting to unravel along its edges? Did you notice the A that my grandmother embroidered on the inside? You probably didn’t, because it’s not your hat. To you, it’s just a vehicle for story.

Winter will be here soon, and I’ve bought another hat. It’s black, not green. Every day after work, I go to the bookstore, and I take out my X-Acto knife. I cut out the words green hat, and I slide the books back on the shelf. I flush your words down the toilet. You can keep my hat. I won’t wear it anymore. But you can’t use it in your story. It’s not your story. It’s mine.

© Alexandra N. Kontes


Alexandra KontesAlexandra N. Kontes’s work has appeared in various online and print journals. You can read more at esmeraldasnest.com.