Disco for the Departed
de Colin Cotterill
The crow and the sparrow lay in the paddy mud barely breathing. Their eyes were glazed. Two men knelt over them: the teacher and the acolyte. Behind them stood an elderly couple, darker than the night around them. The woman put her hand on the young man's shoulder and told him to go ahead. The teacher nodded and the dark-skinnned novice took up the birds gently in his hands and held them together as if in a prayer. He pressed his palms together, softly at first, then, as the birds became one, he clasped his fingers shut, and squeezed till a slither of smoke escaped from his grasp and wafted upward. He opened his palms and the birds, and the couple, and the teacher were gone. But the novice remained. He smiled at the observer of this dream and slowly, whithout the aid of langage, set about explaining to Siri what he had just witnessed. Before the morning sun rose, the old doctor understood everything.