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by Tim Love

She read about how albatrosses could glide for months without landing. Nobody had loved her for more than a night. She read that hummingbirds’ wings flutter faster than hearts. They were all dinosaurs once, their feathers merely for insulation, for colourful show. Their specialisation is why they survived.

At dawn outside the Stock Exchange she released peacocks from a hired van. Twenty of them — more than she first budgeted for, but she could then sketch them and call her project “Score draw”.

She kept all the press cuttings — mostly double entendres and peacock recipes — for her project folder. Some gallery would buy it when she’s famous, but for the moment she stayed anonymous because she knew the trouble she’d be in with Animal Rights and Road Safety. She planned to say it was all an accident, that the van door swung open on the way somewhere. What she didn’t know was that a drunk woke on a park bench, saw a peacock strut inches from his face, and rolled back to sleep with images that would recur in dreams for the rest of his life. Clubbers on their way home competed to make the birds spread their tails — scaring them, or trying to impress them with dance moves. One guy impressed another so much that they fell in love.

Without pea-hens the birds never lasted like the Kingston parakeets. Even good art has a sell-by date. She wanted to be remembered by critics for having phases. This would be her bird period. She started planning her next project — “Foul”. She wanted it to involve headless chickens, or maybe homing pigeons going to pigeonholes. Whatever, it needed to be set in Westminster, to be another statement. On the way to do a reccy she flicked through a Metro and saw a story entitled “Mystery bird woman” with a fuzzy photo. It could have been anyone. “She’d do anything for publicity,” she read, “What will she think of next? Will she show us her tits?” She hadn’t thought of that.

Tim Love lives in Cambridge, UK, teaching computing. He’s had prose published in Necessary Fiction, Journal of Microliterature, Forge Literary Magazine, Cortland Review, Connotation Press, etc. His publications are Moving Parts’ (HappenStance, 2010) and By All Means’ (Nine Arches Press, 2012). Follow him at litrefs.blogspot.com.