At noon an orange crashed through the window.

It landed a few feet away, bounced, then rolled to a stop beside the foot of the birdcage stand. 

It was a good looking orange.  Probably it had been rather badly bruised as it passed through the pane, but that would be all right if it were eaten soon.  The skin had broken on impact, but that didn’t matter, nothing would have gotten into it that wasn’t already in the house.  That wasn’t much. 

This was one of the outer rooms.  It didn’t look as though it had ever felt furniture.  The carpet seemed new and unused, stretching from the bird cage to the four walls without the mark of a footstep marring its watery green depths.  The glass wasn’t convinced by the colour.  It glinted in the sun without bothering to sink. 

The glass never sank.  Even in the last raid, when the hordes had piled through the window, their feet hadn’t pushed the glass under the broadloom lake. 

It was always lying on top of the carpet when she came to pick it up.  After dark, of course, so the watching crowds wouldn’t see her.  Dark was the only time she could look out at her tormentors.  She never used this window though.  It was too obvious, too easy to approach, even in the night.  Instead she sat at the window upstairs in the hall. 

She’d dragged one of the kitchen stools there between the second and third last invasions.  A little after that she’d brought the little fan heater from the attic and the quilts from the bed.  It was cold in the house, and she wasn’t built to survive the cold. 

She called them around two in the afternoon.  They would be there the next day. 

They came any time she called, ready and willing to help with anything the mobs had destroyed.  They arrived in a big, armoured van that just drove through the mobs without waiting for it to part.  A few of them would stand guard with their guns while the others fixed whatever was wrong. 

It was the bird, of course. 

They would all gather in the hall to stare at the cage, ignoring her, trying to involve the bird in their fraternity.  The bird never deigned to look at them. 

At three-thirty she went to the window.  She couldn’t help it.  She wanted to see them again by daylight, watch their faces twist in hatred and imagine them smoothed by love.  They didn’t seem to notice her in the upper window.  They were busy with something just beyond the front lawn. 

She fingered the orange.  She’d peeled it already.  Many of the pieces had been ripped when it came in, but she could imagine how sweet it would be. 

She stared out the window, admiring the forms of her jailers, listening to their song and trying to forget the words. 

Her hands were shaking as the brought the first piece of flesh to her mouth. 

The glass filled her mouth with blood. 

She tried to forget the pain so she could enjoy the sweetness.

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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1995