Volume 3 Number 1 • Spring 2011

Meredith Sue Willis


Her blue, red, and yellow kaftan was splendid against the drab station house walls. She swooped the sleeves through the air, and her arresting officer winced at her raucous calls. A boy, also guarded by an officer and perhaps eleven years old, sat in the next row of chairs. Softly, he imitated the sounds she made, and his officer said, “Keep it down, kid, you're in enough trouble already.”

The officer at the desk frowned at the boy and at her too. Noise wasn't unusual in that place; but bright colors were, and also her plume of hair, pale with peroxide or age, shifting in the greenish fluorescence of institutional lights.

“What have I done?” she cried. “What What What?”

“Keep it down,” said her officer.

The boy's officer said, “That's a noisy one all right.”

“What?” she cried. “What? What?”

The officer at the desk gestured for her to come forward. She screamed, and the plume of hair shifted, one section overlapping the next like scales.

The boy said, “That lady's turning into a bird.”

The police ignored him and her too. Her arresting officer said, “She was standing on the corner yelling the same thing over and over.”

“On the corner!” she cried, her head bobbing in agitation not agreement. “On the corner!”

The officer at the desk said, “So, what do we have here? Psychiatric evaluation?”

“Oh man!” cried the boy. “She's really morphing!”

You had to look closely because at first she appeared to fill the same amount of space and to repeat the same things, but she was definitely becoming more compact, her wing feathers more splendid than the kaftan.

At last the officers were forced to look directly at the array of feathers, at the zygodactylic toes, two front and two back, marching back and forth on the chair next to the boy, her hooked yellow beak and leathery pink tongue.

The officers laid hands on their black leather holsters.

The boy cried, “It's you, Grandmother!”

And she lifted off shouting, “Out! Out!” protecting him from all trouble with her wings as she flew him to their home in the trees.

Meredith Sue Willis is a fiction and nonfiction writer. “Rescue” is part of a collection-in-progress called Feral Grandmothers. Her newest books, both published in 2010, are Out of the Mountains (Appalachian themed short stories from Ohio University Press) and Ten Strategies to Write Your Novel (Montemayor Press). Her web page is .