Every year, for years and years, the same couple came to the nest in the front courtyard of my parent's house by the sea. A bird couple, in love. She would lay the eggs. And sit on them. He would fly for food, scrounge for juicy worms or insects, diligent, hardworking. Doting on his bride and babies, as they hatched. Guarding his small family. And sometimes they took turns, to run errands, sharing the babysitting, and their own version of supermarket shopping. We didn't know where they went in winter. But every spring, they were back. Until last year.
The dog had noticed the way my parents watched the nest. Built at eye-level, they could see the tiny beaks, cracking through smooth shell. The first cheeps. The puffed, proud chest of the father-bird. The happy song of the mother. The dog slunk in the shadows, eyes on my parents, eyes on the birds. If horror music could have played, it would have. Pacing turned pounce, one quiet afternoon, my parents out. Through the lines of sun and shadow, the mother bird swooped nestward, flying trustingly low, babies on her little mind. I hope she didn't see it coming, the smelly dog-breath, a guillotine with salivary jaws. Just fed, stomach round and full, it was attention he was hungry for. Evil with jealousy. The dog wanted the human oohs and aahs and soft, low voices that wove around the bird family for himself. That evening, when my mother arrived home, she wasn't first to find the carnage. The male bird was already there, hopping dazed around his lover. Her small, feathery body headless. After that, he abandoned the nest. Who could fucking blame him. The eggs grew cold and dead. He never came back, the little brokenhearted bird-man.