Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weathervane Stories

Weathervane Stories

            The weathervane woke and flew North. Weathervanes are patient, always getting pushed around by the wind. Never able to turn off the damn radio singing up the chimney. And it is an irrefutable truth that those who own weathervanes are also in possession of terrible taste in music.

            The weathervane stretched one rusty leg, and as it began to stretch the other, it rose. The wind blew South, and because there is a first time for everything, the weathervane flew North. “The North,” the road sign said. “Deer Crossing,” the road sign warned. “Switchbacks ahead,” the road sign scolded. The weathervane flew on.

            Flying over the dark trees, the weathervane watched a small stream slip from trunk to trunk, threading around white sheep, small beacons in the dark. The weathervane slowly settled onto a top branch, ignoring that damn wind. “Go South,” she whispered. “It’s what you do.” She pushed at its iron plumes. “Go South.” The weathervane stepped off the branch and sank to the ground, settling into black mud. The wind drifted away, disappointed.

            “Fine. I hope you freeze. I hope you get stuck there. I hope a sheep eats you. Good luck out there, tosser.” The weathervane stayed quiet, and watched, and listened, as she grew into a distant, belligerent mist. 

            “Tosser?” it thought. The weathervane closed its eye and went to sleep. In the morning, it pulled one leg up, then the other, and flew North. It rained all day. The weathervane had never been cold before.

            The weathervane flew to a place where he could see no trees, only slate, only chimneys, only streets, as the sun disappeared, winking. “Come out West, pardner.” The weathervane planted its feet on a roof opposite a café, and watched the lights.

            One thin-lipped woman hurried something onto a napkin before slipping out the door, which jingled belatedly as she rushed away. The barista scribbled her number on someone’s latte. “Call me?” The weathervane closed its eye and went to sleep.

            When the weathervane woke, it stretched one leg out, then the other. But it stayed. Only for a little while. Long enough to see the thin-lipped woman beaming a thin-lipped smile at the weathervane from the front page of the paper lying on the stoop. Long enough to watch the barista dance out the café door on her last day; she was off to get married. Long enough to fall in love with the girl who lived in the house at its feet.

            She was very tousle-haired, this girl. She wore little shoes with straps around the ankle, and windy dresses with zippers and darts.  Sometimes she smiled back at the door and the weathervane could see her bright red mouth. Some days a knapsack sat against the small of her back, and some days she hugged a book to her chest.

            When she took her rosy cheeks South, far South, the weathervane lifted one leg, then the other, and flew after her. The wind was floating East at the time. “There’s nothing for you in the South,” she promised. The weathervane flew on.

            “What a funny weathervane!” her new friends giggled. “A raven? How unique in Tijuana.”

            “It’s sentimental,” she lied. It certainly hadn’t been sentimental enough for her to pack, and she supposed her mother had slipped it in her bag. “It reminds me of home,” she smiled.

            She only listened to The Smiths and Yo-Yo Ma. The weathervane could only just see the record player turning lazily if it craned its neck towards the open window. At dusk the weathervane could hear ice cubes and quiet conversation, and sometimes the girl would laugh, and the weathervane knew it was her laugh. That laugh, the one that rose over cello and Morrissey, was the only laugh that sounded like it came from a red mouth.

            The mariachi band at her wedding was lovely, big men with bigger moustaches crowding into her green backyard, dark but lit with fairy lights. Tequila for everyone! It’s a wedding! Everybody smiled when they drank the tequila; they loved it; “Más, más!” And it was good for a very long time, but it must have stopped being good, because she stopped laughing. Sometimes she shouted, and it never sounded like the shouts that would come from a red mouth. Sometimes someone else shouted, and it never sounded like things you should shout at a rosy-cheeked girl with red lips.

            But the weathervane stayed because she was still tousle-haired, and she still listened to that song it really liked, about a bicycle. One morning an old car pulled out of the garage, as it did every morning, but that night, and a night after, and another night after, the garage waited, empty. One morning another, different, old car crept to the curb, and she threw her suitcase into the back, and the weathervane knew this was different than sometimes “going to the movies” or “out for drinks”.

            The weathervane followed the old car East, to a place with much larger birds of metal. He flew North, far North, alongside an airplane of suits and plaid scarves, North alongside a coach of gray jeans and muddy shoes and quiet people. He followed her to a place where he could see no trees, only slate, only chimneys, only streets. She dragged her suitcase up the street, up the walk, up the stoop. She still wore her little shoes with the straps around the ankle, and those windy dresses, but her mouth was never bright red anymore, and he couldn’t hear her laugh over the silence, let alone over a record player.

            The wind swanned by on her way from coast to mountain to desert. She would slip through the bottom of the door and sit in the fan, watching the girl. On the roof, she would tell the weathervane ghastly stories. “She’s getting fatter and fatter!” The wind would spit. On the occasion the girl would leave the house, the weathervane saw that she was. Her dresses floated less. “She never smiles.” The weathervane could only believe the wind: he never saw her turn back to the house and smile now.

            Sometimes the weathervane knew things before the wind, but could only sit patiently and listen. “Her hair is white, and she moves so slow.” The wind scorned, whipping around the rusty weathervane. “Her life is short, you fool. She never smiles. You’re rusting on this roof. What are you doing?” The weathervane didn’t know that it mattered. It belonged here, waiting to hear cello and red laughs.

            When the weathervane lost a wing to rust, the wind beat it again, hurling words like “dying” at it. The weathervane didn’t know that it mattered. It belonged here, waiting to see windy dresses and canvas knapsacks.  The wind speared it with a short goodbye and swam South, warm and golden long before she reached the sea. A white van stumbled onto the curb, and the girl hobbled out. She wore black shoes with fat soles and a dress drowning in garish flowers. She carried a dark stick and her suitcase.

            A man in beige pants and a blue shirt hurried up the walk and gave her his arm. She looked back at the door and turned a key. The weathervane watched her, and she looked up and watched it. Under her wrinkled forehead and sagging cheeks, she had a red mouth. She smiled softly at the weathervane, her eyes the amber of tequila, and almost as clear. At her smile, the weathervane felt as if it had rusted straight through, as if the rod through its body was no longer solid.

            She turned and trudged down and into the white van, filled with the white heads of pensioners. They looked like the sheep in the mud. Very beacon-y, the weathervane thought quietly. It flew North, farther than it had ever flown, and waited on top of a big beige building, just above a window that was always closed, where the girl slept and ate and sometimes read. The weathervane waited for her red laugh.

            The wind was right, it was always right. The girl had a short life, after all. But the weathervane thought it would wait, anyways.  And a raven weathervane is never more in place than in a quiet churchyard.

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