To Kill a Mockingbird: a Reimagining

Birders often think they know best. I never imagined I’d be associating with Beverly, Herbert, and the rest of the birders. But when a pile of dead birds brushed up on the shore near my home, I reckoned it was worth investigating. The birders has already gathered around the feathers and bloodied, bashed-up bodies. Helen had stifled a gasp, but Larry just shook his head in disbelief.

“This was deliberate,” Herbert announced, and a hush fell over the group. I kicked my toes into the sand, feeling stupid. All of them were in their sixties, and here I was, some teenage girl they never met before, heartbroken over a bird.

I never felt close to anybody or anything, but some nights, I’d sit at my window and talk to a strange bird that made sounds like other birds. An echo. An echo. An echo. Beverly looked at the collection of dead birds and sighed. “You know, it takes a lot of effort to kill a mockingbird.” She gestured toward one of the birds with the toe of her ratty sneaker.

The others nodded. Maybe I was an idiot, but I figured killing a bird was as simple as aiming a gun at the sky.

Larry murmured as though he could read my mind, “Not effort as in manual labor, girl,” he said, his gray eyes resting on me. “Spiritual.” I tried to understand what that meant but nodded anyway.

“A mockingbird mimics the animals she hears. Often singing late at night. Past midnight.” One of the women said. See what I mean about birders? Acting like they know everything.

My mama used to sing every night, and I’d fall asleep to the sound. It’d be just after midnight, and her voice was clear as a bell until the night a shot into the sky killed her.

I never thought I’d cry over a mockingbird, but here I was on the shore with tears in my eyes.

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