Pigeon by Harriet Terrill

Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

We all stood at the train station and watched the pigeon eating a doughnut, pecking at the gelatinous pink icing machine-piped across its surface. It was as if we’d all suddenly realized that it was alive and that we were not. It’s what I was thinking, anyway. My cousin once told me that to assume everyone around you is thinking the same thing means you’re a narcissist or you’ve got a massive ego or something like that. But we really were staring. Maybe the woman with the crooked teeth and the thin black eyebrows was just hungry, was just thinking “I could do with a peck of that.” Or maybe that’s what I thought because of her massive nose. It’s not exactly possible to know.

The man with the long black umbrella which was shut and dry because it hadn’t rained all day, he might’ve been thinking about stabbing the pigeon with the silver pointed end. I know you shouldn’t make assumptions, but the guy looked pretty intense, and you can’t help but imagine lugging an umbrella around on a sunny day would leave you pretty angry. Would leave you thinking “I really should put this to use.”

The pigeon flapped its wings like it might fly away, but it went back to pecking. It seemed more interested in the icing on the doughnut, the pink glaze stuck to its beak like cheap lipstick. It looked just like the lipstick the girl stood next to me was wearing. We were all stood in a bird watching circle, although nobody called it that. No one really said anything, we just watched the pigeon. The girl next to me, she was nearer my age, but I could tell she was younger by the way she kept fumbling with the cuff of her denim jacket. Like she felt insecure just watching the bird being watched by all these people. I’d thought she must be the empathic type. Imagining what it would be like to be a pigeon. Or thinking “I know what it’s like to be called bird.” I wanted to ask her if she minded it, being called bird. I thought she’d probably turn to me and say “I do mind, sometimes” and then she’d try and kiss me with her pink pigeon lips and she’d say “Thank you for noticing me” and I’d let her kiss me just so maybe she wouldn’t feel so bad. I nearly asked her too, but then a train came and the pigeon flew away. The eyebrow woman left our bird watching circle first to put something in the bin, then the umbrella man huffed off towards the cafe. The girl with the lipstick was still staring at the doughnut where the pigeon had been until she just sort of snapped out of it, tucking her hands up into the cuffs of her jacket so you could only just see her fingers. Then she got on the train.

When I’d told my cousin about it, all he said was “Rats with wings.” That’s what he thought people think.


This story was originally published by Bandit Fiction as part of the Bandit Fiction Presents… series of digital issues. These issues remain freely available, and by purchasing one, you’ll be supporting us to continue doing what we love doing: bringing the best works from new and emerging writers to the masses.


About The Author

Do you feel mediocre? Did you drop your buttered toast on the floor at work again and just think oh for fuck sake I can’t even eat a piece of toast properly? Maybe that’s why Margret’s leaving. I can’t help you, but I could create a story, play or film that personifies your existential angst.


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