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Diaspora (Excerpt 2)
After Charlotte Beryl's metamorphosis, the inevitable exodus swept through and left only air so quiet it choked on its own silence. Shop owners boarded up their windows and skipped town without retrieving their security deposits. Before they sped off in a van, our neighbors gave me their daughter’s pink Barbie bike, even though I was about a decade too old for such a thing.
For some reason, only children and adolescents turned into birds. Half of my history class was gone by spring break. In the early mornings, the sky a milky rose, mothers tiptoed in the lonely streets, desperately searching for the children they’d lost to the skies and the trees. 
Finally, we reached a consensus on the breed: song sparrow.
During gym class, Sammy Holwell collapsed on the basketball court, spine convulsing into a question mark.
An entire sixth grade class went on a field trip and never came back. Our schools slowly emptied until they shut down altogether.
I held my breath for years, waiting, always waiting, but never felt bright crackling underneath my skin, never woke up with a mouth filled with feathers. Our town became a suburban conglomerate of guano and fading memories.
Every so often, I would see a bird soar over a sprawling orchard or plunge through the foaming twilight sky, and I was almost certain it had Thayer Stokes’s stocky body, or Sammy Holwell’s nervous twitch.
I wondered if the sparrows had forgotten their names, their families, their past lives. I wondered if they still remembered how to speak in their first languages, or if those words had been etched away by the incessant chirping and cawing. I wondered if they still searched for home, a light smudged on the endless horizon.
Rona Wang
Published in Issue 38