Observer Effect by Jenya Doudareva
Sparrows flying close to the ground means that it will rain. Sparrows bathing in sand means that it will rain. Is that how it goes? The meteorologist on TV says that there is a sixty percent chance of rain. Naturally I have my doubts. What do they know?
It’s not the sparrows though that draw my attention today but a cardinal. I’ve been seeing it for weeks now outside of my apartment, taunting my lazy cats with the flapping of its wings.
So many questions. Is there just one cardinal or am I unable to tell the difference between individuals like an asshole? What is it doing here? Does it have an inner life and does it ever get self-conscious when it realizes that it’s been talking to itself for hours, loud?
Today this cardinal is sitting on a branch as I’m walking home. It hears me approach and flees, marked by sudden and violent rustling of the leaves. I follow it first with my eyes and then, reflexively, with my feet, unaware or how ridiculous it is to be chasing a bird who can fly unlike myself who does not have wings.
I wonder if the fact that I’m observing it has made it change its path, its evening plans. And that’s some quantum shit.
I see it way up ahead, a scarlet splatter against the bright blue of the sky. I keep walking, fast. The splatter slowly turns into a dot and I begin to run, feet heavy and my body wobbly and unprepared. I run and I swear and and sweat and pant. The dot disappears. I look around and realize I’ve hobbled for miles away from my home.
It starts to rain. They were right after all.
Jenya is an engineer who likes to tinker with technology and with words. She is a frequent contributor to Vending Machine Press. Her poems are available on Amazon and have also been featured in Clementine Poetry Journal, and her paper on algorithms for safe irradiation of brain tumours is available in an operations research journal somewhere.
Another great story from one of Toronto’s best writers.