I never saw the hawks, because I was never asked over to see them. Our orbits occasionally intersected and some of our friends were friends with each other, but our lips never formed words directly at one another. We didn’t smile in the halls and our arms never brushed in the dark room of photography class.
She was one of those magic girls who only had to wear a thin smear of clear lipgloss to elevate from just pretty to otherworldly beautiful. A faint sprinkling of light brown freckles crossed a pert little nose that was usually slightly sunburned, and her hair was glossy black, curly, without any streaks of red like mine. It looked soft, even though it was thick. Mine was so coarse and snarled that bobby pins and hair ties sometimes got stuck in there for days. My parents were slightly eccentric but mainly normal. Hers were hippie falconer artists who let her burn incense in her room and stay out all night.
And she had hawks. In her living room, real ones that lived on potted trees and birch trunks and twigs that were affixed to the walls and high cedar beams. She wore long black leather gloves to protect her skin from the birds’ weight and claws. All she had to do was whistle, and one of them would swoop down from its perch and tether itself to her arm, cocking its head at look at her with hard, strong yellow eyes. She was so small and dark, and they were so big and their wingspan was so wide. When I imagined her house and her hawks I saw one of her red tailed pets wrapping her up in their wings until she disappeared completely. Feathers and curly black hair would shower to the floor and they’d fly off together and leave the mundane world of high school and Ohio behind. She would get to leave the rest of us.
I only knew all of this because a friend of mine had been there, had been invited over after school. I was not asked over; the falconer girl didn’t know I existed. I was such a nerd. Such a showtune- humming, flood-pant wearing nerd. My friend, however, with her cool wit, swift way with a charcoal pencil, and backpack full of tightly rolled joints was invited over, though. Several times. I kept asking my friend to describe everything she remembered, though. I wanted hear every tiny, glowing detail. Did it smell like a birdcage? Could you feel the wind kicked up and stirred around when the hawks flapped their wings and soared around? Were they mean? Or did the girl make them coo like doves, that’s how much they loved her?
My fascination with her grew along with my jealousy. To my deep embarrasment, a slight, hot, burning coal of infatuation started to glow along with the ever smoldering envy. It seemed the more gossamer and bright she was, the more I felt my feathers drooping.
(The Falconer by Marisol Spoon, an Asheville artist with a lovely series of work for sale in her Etsy shop.)