A Tug

Though these particular circumstances don’t help my case, I think cemeteries get a bad rap. They really are quite peaceful once you get to know them, and although my hands often crackle with some strange energy while I am looking at the headstones, I wouldn’t necessarily call this sensation sinister per se. Of course, the dead bird was a bit different.

It was one of those October days too autumnal to exist outside of poetry. The leaves were just barely tinged with reds and oranges and a few odd browns. The air was crisp and nippy without being cold. People milled about in Jonathan Edwards wearing flannels and jean jackets and sweaters and scarves.

I had been watching a lecture on market elasticity, or perhaps some other economic drivel. Deciding that the day was too beautiful to waste, I closed my laptop and then my eyes, just existing, enjoying the atmosphere.

The compulsion to seek out a graveyard––one that I am admittedly somewhat familiar with––suddenly registered like a peculiar tug. Although I had felt it as a gentle prodding throughout the morning, it intensified as I lazed in the courtyard until I couldn’t ignore it. Eventually, I couldn’t bear to remain outside of the cemetery gates for a moment longer, so I roused myself and began to follow where it led.

Even after I entered the Grove Street Cemetery, some force was yanking at my essence. It was not dissimilar to the sensation of my sister pulling my ear as she did when we were kids to coerce me into walking with her. Hesitating, let alone resisting, was not just uncomfortable. It was painful.

Barely conscious of my surroundings, I let the tug guide me, taking a sharp left at the entrance. I reached some nondescript lane and began walking past it when the force rubberbanded me back. This was the one, it seemed. This was where that sensation was emanating from.

Walking down the lane, I felt a rush of dread and adrenaline. What was so important, so powerful, to have dragged me here from across the whole campus? A chill rushed over me. This is dangerous, I thought. This is not of this world. This is evil. I wished to run away, but the tug was too strong. I had to obey, I couldn’t help it.

The blue jay’s corpse was something of a relief in its mundanity. It was as conspicuous as it could possibly be, smackdab in the center of the path. This was why I was here, I knew.

It was then that I noticed there was no blood around it to evidence the nature of its demise. It was perversely unbroken –– its wings were fully intact, stretched out as majestically as its live counterparts. No flies had even begun to touch it. I might have thought it were alive, were it not belly up and missing both its eyes.

My world went out of focus. It seemed to rotate around the focal point of the bird. I had to be as close as possible to avoid vertigo.

I am going to dream about you, I thought as I stared into those smears of red where it should have been looking back at me. I do not know what you are or what you mean but I am going to dream about you.

The dead bird seemed indifferent.

After perhaps an eternity, the corpse lost its grip on me, and I walked away to continue enjoying the splendid fall weather.

***

Later that day, I was recounting this story to a friend on Cross Campus when a stranger sitting next to us interjected. “Sorry to butt in, but this was today, right?” he asked. I confirmed. He then explained that he had felt that same sensation, had gone directly to the same lane, and found the same dead bird. I was thrilled by this revelation –– it confirmed that there was something higher than myself which had guided me to this portent. Perhaps my destiny was intertwined with this companion who had felt the same force. Unfortunately, I did not know how to explain this fatalistic significance to him, so I said, “Huh,” and the conversation ended. I have not seen him since.

***

My intuition proved to be correct. I dream of the bird every now and then. Sometimes it talks to me, but always in strange tongues beyond my comprehension. I am not much of a superstitious person, so I don’t pay it too much mind.

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