Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Store
by Michael Gore
I climbed up the pole to the osprey nest, mostly just to satisfy my own curiosity.
I'd only ever seen them from below, or from a distance, nestled as they often are in marshy areas.
I figured, nobody's home, no time like the present.
I didn't know if there'd be eggs or not, not knowing what season it was in their lives.
What I didn't expect to see is what I saw:
Being human, I had to open it.
Inside was a fish.
Not just any ordinary fish.
It had the word HAPPINESS written on it.
I'd known happiness before, seen it many times, but it had never felt,—certainly hadn’t—smelled, like this.
I looked around me, nobody in sight.
Did I dare take it?
I unzipped my jacket, ready to slide the fish into the inside pocket.
Then, before I could even think, a shadow passed over me, and a quick blast of air chilled me.
The osprey swooped in, its talons scratching my hand as it
ripped away the fish,
and with the suddenness of its arrival, it was away.
v I watched it fly off, silhouetted against the low clouds, until it was nothing but a small speck in the distance, and then nothing at all.
I looked to the ground below, then looked at my bleeding hand.
The same hand that minutes before had held the fish, had grasped happiness.
As I stepped out of the nest and began my descent, I looked back at the piece of luggage, propped open still--an empty space where I had first glimpsed the fish.
Who knows, I thought, what other happiness it might some day contain, exhilarated by the idea that happiness could overtake you in the strangest forms, but only probably if you allowed it to, if you opened yourself to that possibility.
I closed it and took it with me, hoping against hope that happiness would
come back soon, with or without its fish, and that
this—wouldn’t—just be a brief case.