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The only change she perceived were the magpies. A pair—black and white so sharply contrasted on their plumage, she asked herself if the edges of those differently tinted patches bristled and burned, sending out electric waves as they touched, scorched like naked nervous ends. Black and white so bluntly interlocked, they hurt her eyes.

The only change she later recalled were the magpies.

But it might have been a false memory.

Perhaps only the turtledoves were around. The usual bunch, though since the sumac trees had been cut they had multiplied. Now, whenever she stepped out of the back door she heard the rustle of an entire flock taking flight—rippling sound of reverse waterfall.

Turtledoves—their increased number was a kind of change, sure.

On the minor side.

And the tinge of blue, underwing, she hadn’t noticed before. Not sure where exactly—a flash, very intense yet hard to locate. Streak of periwinkle on brown. Was it new?

The scrub jay had changed as well. Lately, a brand new specimen had substituted the old one. She had accepted the switch as a matter of fact, careless about the previous bird’s fate.

Change is kind of cruel, that way.

The new scrub jay was plump and full-feathered—its plumage so glossy it looked false. But a joy to behold compared to the scrawniness of its predecessor. Bold, aggressive… as she packed the bedroom it came at the window and started hammering a metal pot with its beak—so near to the glass pane she feared it would pass through it any moment—seamlessly materializing itself on the shelf, perching upon the tall abat-jour.

It stubbornly tapped against cold aluminum, unabashed by her obtrusive closeness and exhibiting none of the well-known shyness of avians.

She was tempted to fetch a few peanuts—lone remain in a stark naked kitchen, survived without a reason. Offer them on her palm as she crouched on the backdoor sill. Oh, yes, the jay would come.

But the house had to be vacated, and she had no spare time.

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