Act 1: Chapter 3, Part 1

Posted on April 09, 2017

Chapter 3: In Which There are Five Nineteens

In Which Angie's Told by a Bird

Ryan. First Day of School. Start of 4th Period.

Angie McMillan burst out giggling. “Interrobang?” she said to Ryan d’Maughn in between giggles. “We haven’t said that since like sixth grade!”

Ryan frowned. “Yeah. I don’t know. It felt right. Seriously though, what the fuck was that?”

Angie shook her head. “I don’t know. Something. We’ll have to ask around after class.”

“Probably you will need to ask around after class,” Ryan said, giving her a meaningful tilt of his head upward.

“That’s what I meant,” Angie said, narrowing her eyes. “Give me some credit.”

Ryan shook his head. “Of course you did,” he said. “Sorry.”

Angie flashed him a grin as the teacher started talking. “It’s fine.”

Angie. First Day of School. Just Before Second Lunch.

After class, Angie hurried outside, Ryan following. She stepped off the walk onto the grass and approached a Japanese beech tree spreading its branches across a large patch of the lawn. There were several birds up in the tree.

“Hey,” Angie said, raising her left hand in front of her, “You guys—“

A black-billed magpie1 immediately flew down out of the tree and landed on her outstretched hand. “Bitchface, your Silver One had herself a cra-zy fucking morning,” the black and white bird said in its raucous chirping voice. “You don’t even know the shit she’s been up to! Your fucking face is going to explode right off your cocking head when you hear this! It’s shit-bananas! Bacaca!”

“I’ve asked you Persephones2 not to address me like that.” Angie sighed. Birds would be birds. “Also. Megan? Is that what you mean? What happened with Megan? And how is she mine? I talked to her for the first time in nearly three years today.”

“Of course she’s yours, you crazy B!” Angie pinched the bridge of her nose with her free hand as it continued. “You’ve always been Nineteens! Now you are fucking five!”

Angie jerked her head up and stared closely at the bird. “What? You can’t be serious.”

“Can’t be serious?!” This agitated the little bird, and it hopped several times up and down on her hand. “What do you mean I can’t be shitting serious?! Interrobang?! Of course I’m pissing serious!”

Angie cast a disbelieving look over her shoulder at Ryan, who just looked back at her confused, then looked at the bird again. “Hold on. Okay. Interrobang?”

“Your Silver One said it! It’s a great interjection!” The magpie gave another couple of hops, this time excited.

“Okay,” Angie said. “Great. Now, we’re five?”

“First you were fucking four, and that didn’t fucking work,” the magpie said. “Three was better, so your Silver One left so you could be three.” It shook its long green tail feathers. “Now she’s back though, and she found a fifth!”

“Yeah, I got that part!” Angie said, her impatience boiling over. “Who, you little twit?! Who?! Interrobang!?”

Behind her, Ryan cut loose a guffaw. The magpie, in the meantime, drew itself up to its full 9 inch height and spread out its iridescent tail. “TWIT?! Interrobang?! I never!” And it launched itself off her hand and flew around her in circles, sputtering indignations.

“Aw!” Angie said, mad at herself. “Come on, bird! Be cool!”

“I should be cool?!” the bird shouted down at her. “I should be cool?! You should be cool! Interrobang!”

“That’s not how you use that,” Angie called up to it, annoyed.

“Interrobang! Interrobang!” it shouted back.

Angie shook her head. “Let’s get to lunch. She isn’t going to be useful again until she calms down. We can just ask Megan.”

“I do not know what the hell you’re talking about,” Ryan said mildly. “That critter’s just spitting birdsong to me, Ange. And now who’s saying interrobang?”

“Megan said it earlier in the bird’s earshot,” Angie replied, running one hand through her hair thoughtfully. “She said it was a quote ‘great interjection’ unquote. And then I got frustrated and it just came out.” She paused, and studied Ryan, calming herself by considering the lines of his features, his fine blond hair. “She said something about us being Nineteens, and that Megan found a fifth. That we were five now.”

“Sacred shit,” Ryan said after processing that for a second. “Did you get who?”

Angie shook her head and started walking. “That’s when I called it a twit.” The magpie was still circling them, shouting mostly incoherently at Angie. “But Megan can tell us.”

Ryan fell into step beside her. “I certainly hope so.”

“Go away!” Angie shouted up at the magpie.

  • 1. The black-billed magpie, like most magpies, is notorious for being particularly foul-mouthed, even among small birds.
  • 2. The alliance of multiple species of birds nesting on Persephone High School’s grounds.