Listen to Ava: Supplicant

The cast-off tennis shoe lies discarded in the gravel by the side of the road, its white leather dry and cracked. Just beyond it stands a sign delineating, in large block letters, a speed zone of 30 MPH. Atop the sign a black bird, smaller than a crow, smaller by half, sits perched, utterly still. Waiting. Watching.

Tiny feet stop next to the shoe, the pudgy toes curled up ever so slightly. The fat little legs are half-obscured by a drooping diaper, held up only by tiny fingers belonging to an infant.

The creature – for it can no longer truly be called human – squats down and scoops up the shoe, cradling it in its short arms. The diaper, forgotten, plops to the ground around its feet.

A moment, and the creature-infant looks up, catches the eye of the bird above it, holds it. Carefully, arms extended in front, shoe held tightly in both hands, it raises the shoe up before its own maddened eyes and distended skull. The creature-infant utters just two words as the bird dips its head and flies away:

“For Ava.”

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