“I’m kind to all things that deserve my kindness.”
“Then why not birds?”
“Because they always shit on me. They do it on purpose.”
“Well, they will if you have a habit of seeking them out. You’ll make them nervous.”
“I don’t seek them out!” she protests.
Shaking my head, I groan as a gentle breeze wraps itself around my lanky limbs.
“You do realise,” I say, “that the two of us are standing beneath a tree looking up at a flock of birds, and not only that but our dog has climbed said tree and is making himself at home next to said birds. Coincidence?”
“Hmm,” she grumbles, “maybe.”
“And anyway, it’s good luck if a bird shits on you. That’s what I was told as a kid. You should see it as a good omen that they’ve chosen to seek you out.”
“What else were you told?”
“That if I stepped on a crack in a paving slab, it would break my mother’s back.”
“Did you? And did it?”
“Sometimes, I would forget, and accidentally wander onto a broken one and be unable to move my feet away in time. The fear was real, but my mother never suffered. Not from that. I’m sure she did from my strange nature and my inability to be like other kids.”
“You were always a weirdo?”
Smiling at her, I walk around the tree with my arm in hers beneath the watchful eye of Hachikō and our feathered friends. We move anti-clockwise as if subconsciously trying to defeat the dying of the day.
“I was regular before my sense of self became apparent to me, then when it did, I made the first steps to untether myself from those around me.”
“I guess even at such a young age, I knew I didn’t suit this place. Or rather, I didn’t suit the way I knew I was expected to behave in such a place. Everyone I’ve ever met has been happy to live in chains. It’s why the two of us found each other. We latched on to the other’s dreams as if clinging to wreckage at sea.”
“Like Kate Winslet in Titanic?”
“Kinda. The difference being that at least you didn’t let me drown like she did Leonardo.”
“Not yet,” she says with a grin and a wink.