Abby scribbled her thoughts into her journal. She was uneasy about something, and when she wrote, the troubles in her head seemed to float down to the page. She paid heed to some insignificant bothers, made a few reminder lists, and then the answer to her unease arrived in her mind, but didn’t make it to the page.
She had hiked into the mountains with Jacob the day before. The narrow paths meant they had to travel in single file a lot of the time but their relationship had developed beyond constant hand holding long ago.
“Oh look, a feather”, she said bending to pick it up.
Jacob continued for a few more steps and then turned to watch her from further down the track. She twisted the feather this way and that, and although his eyebrows raised a little, Jacob managed to resist rolling his eyes. Dissatisfied, Abby tossed the feather to the side of the track, and they both continued on.
“Aren’t you meant to accept every feather?” Jacob said over his shoulder.
“Yeah, but that one’s broken and has bird crap and stuff on it.” She couldn’t possibly imagine it being pinned with the other feathers on her collection board.
“Does it matter?” He asked.
They had only been together for a couple of years but this relationship with Jacob was showing promise. He tolerated her strange behaviours – ‘quirks’ he’d called them – and even tried to understand some of them. Like her ‘feather thing’, as he’d described it to his mates. Abby frowned. Now he was asking about the rules. Were there even ‘feather rules’? She didn’t know.
With Jacob moving ahead of her on the track, Abby smiled as she remembered explaining to him the significance of the feathers in her life. It was the first time he had come back to her apartment and he couldn’t help but notice the message board in the hall filled with an array of feathers.
“Wow, did your duvet explode?” he’d joked.
She already liked Jacob and had trusted him enough to explain how distraught she was when her brother had died.
Over a glass of wine, Abby recounted the story of being out walking, and asking her brother how she could know that he was still with her, guiding and encouraging her, when a feather dropped directly in front of her.
“So I believe that feathers in my life are a sign from my brother.” She waited for Jacob to make excuses to leave but he nodded and seemed to understand so she continued. “When the feathers fall directly in my path, I take comfort that I am being watched over and cared for. I find it, well, comforting.”
She studied his face and found only compassion.
“So then this really is a ‘message board’ for you and your brother!” he smiled and gently nodded his head. “I actually think that’s really nice”.
Looking back to the pages in her journal, Abby now wondered did the agreement include dirty and damaged feathers? She wasn’t too sure and her hand flew across the page of her journal spewing thoughts faster than she could possibly write.
Do I accept every feather, and who am I to decide this?
If I accept the pretty ones, colourful and dainty ones, why reject the awful looking ones?
Is there some magical rule about this?
Am I breaking some kind of international feather law?
If the feathers in the path mean I am being watched over and guided, and all that ‘fluffy’ stuff, what on earth could a raggedy old disgusting feather with bird crap on it mean?
Abby’s heart told her the answer, and she whispered it to herself.
That I will be watched over and loved even when the situation doesn’t look that pretty.
So will I accept this feather? Will I accept his presence and love in the bedraggled parts of my life?
Abby pushed her journal aside, grabbed her car keys, and drove towards the mountain. She was going to find the feather and add it proudly to her collection board. Bird crap happens in every life. The winding road and sunny sky lent itself to slow driving tourists out to enjoy the scenery. Abby reminded herself to stay calm. The feather would be waiting there, somewhere, in the middle of the forest. She knew roughly where, but it could be anywhere by now. How bizarre that this treasure hunt was for a literally stinking feather. But treasure is often found in the strangest of places.
The narrow paths on the mountain felt different without Jacob and his friendly banter. It was still and quiet now, almost sacred. Abby searched among the grasses, rocks and leaf litter. No one passed by to disturb her. And the feather was waiting for her.
Abby pinned the raggedy feather in the centre of the message board. Funny, it didn’t look as disgusting as it had yesterday. It had its own beaten up kind of beauty. She asked her brother to be a part of her crappy days too, as they’re the days where love really exists.
We can wash the dust and crap from our day, and still find love underneath.