An Ostrich

When Dad died, I talked to an ostrich. Never miss stories like this one. Sign up for our Sunday night newsletter: By checking this box I consent to receiving emails …

Cartoon by Rolli
Cartoon by Rolli

When Dad died, I talked to an ostrich.


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In the waiting room, an ostrich sat down.

“Who let this ostrich in? ” I said.

The janitor stared at me.

The ostrich stared at me.

The surgeon walked into the room. He tore off his white mask and put on a serious one.

“You don’t even have to say it,” I said.

I put my head in my hands.

The ostrich put his wing around me.

“Shit,” I said.

*

We didn’t have the greatest relationship, Dad and I. We didn’t talk. He treated me like shit. I loved him. I realized that after.

When he got sick, I think we got closer. I walked closer to him, I sat closer. We still didn’t talk but . . .

Then he died.

*

I Could Really Use A Friend Right Now.

I Really Need Someone To Talk To.

I put a poster up. I mailed it to my friends.

No one got back to me.

One afternoon, there was a knock on the door.

I got out of bed. I got dressed.

I opened the door.

It was the ostrich.

He sat down on the sofa.

“I’ll make some tea,” I said.

*

“I don’t remember Dad ever playing with me. He was always too old. Even when he wasn’t. He loved me. He never said it. I said it a lot when I was a kid, but . . . I didn’t mean it. Not really.”

You can tell an ostrich anything.

“My bedroom was next to Dad’s. He had—he was a romantic guy. I heard him having sex, every time. I sometimes wonder if that screwed me up.”

The ostrich nodded. He was a great listener.

“Some more tea? ”

*

I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t open my eyes. I kept falling asleep. I kept dreaming.

I dreamed I was the last person on Earth. I felt so homesick. Even though I was home.

I crawled into bed—in my dream. I lay there.

Something touched my hair. Something tousled it, like . . . Dad.

I woke up.

I looked over.

There was something on the pillow, next to me.

An ostrich feather.

*

One morning.

I looked out the window.

The sky was blue. I hadn’t noticed that. Not in a long, long time.

I made breakfast.

I swept the floor.

I opened the front door and closed it.

I heard something.

I ran back to the window.

I saw the shadow of the ostrich, on the lawn.

Just the shadow.

Then it was gone.

Rolli
Rolli (rollistuff.com; @rolliwrites) is a writer and cartoonist from Regina. His most recent story collection, I Am Currently Working On a Novel, was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and short-listed for the High Plains Book Award. Rolli’s cartoons appear regularly in the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Adbusters, and other popular outlets.

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