The Wallcreeper

All my life I had fantasized about being used sexually in every way. How naive I was, I said to myself.

Olia Mishchenko, untitled, A-frames (detail). 2010, pen and ink on paper. 18 × 24". Courtesy of the artist.

I was looking at the map when Stephen swerved, hit the rock, and occasioned the miscarriage. Immediately obvious was my sticky forehead. Maybe I was unconscious for a couple of seconds, I don’t know. Eventually I saw Stephen poking around the front of the car and said, “Jesus, what was that.”

He leaned in the window and said, “Hey, you’re bleeding. Hold on a second.” He crossed behind the car, looked both ways, and retrieved the bird from the opposite ditch.

I opened the door and put my feet outside, threw up, and lay down, not in the vomit but near it. The fir tops next to me had their roots at the bottom of a cliff.

“Can I use this bread bag?” Stephen asked. “Tiff? Tiff?” He kneeled next to me. “That was stupid of me. I shouldn’t touch you after handling this bird. Can you hear me? Tiff?”

He helped me into the back seat and I lay down on the bread. He said head wounds always bleed like that. I said he should have kept quiet. I lost the ability to see and began to hyperventilate a bit. The car pulled back on to the road. From the passenger seat the wallcreeper said, “Twee.”

“Open the bag!” I cried.

“Twee!” it said again.

Stephen pulled over and busied himself with it for a moment. He said, “I thought it was dead. I just wanted to get it off the road. I was going to have it prepared or something, I don’t know. You should see its wings. For me it’s a lifer. It’s like the most wonderful bird. But it’s a species of least concern and actually they’re all over the place except anyplace you would normally go. I identified it even before I hit it.Tichodroma muraria! It was unmistakable, just like they said it would be. So this is great. Dead is not a tick as far as I’m concerned. I identified it before I hit it anyway. It really is unmistakable. You should see it, Tiff. I’m rambling on like this because you might have a concussion and you’re not supposed to sleep.”

“Put on music.”

The wallcreeper protested. “Twee!”

I stayed awake by retching, and Stephen drove defensively but swiftly back to Interlaken.

Excerpted from The Wallcreeper, forthcoming from Dorothy, a publishing project.

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