The bird flutters impatiently, its small feet temporarily leaving the windowsill, a muffled tweet coming through the glass.
Completely numb, you rise from your place on the couch and walk over to the window.
But it blew up into snow, you think as you recall an isolated snowfall, looking down at the puffy white creature.
Its small, snowy eyes meet yours.
A new one? But…that’s impossible…that means…!
The bird hops over to the side of the ledge, where the window ends and wall begins. It taps multiple times at this spot, tweeting at you once again.
Heart racing, your fingers find the frame.
And you open the window.
The cardinal zooms past you in a flurry of wind, its wings narrowly missing you. It circles up to the ceiling after a lap or two around the room, chirping excitedly.
All you can manage to do is watch it in its miniscule magnificence, completely surrendered to the spell it casts in its tiny flight, your back turned to the opened window as you observe the airborne critter.
Thin strands of snow trail from the tips of its wings as it soars, much like a Jetstream from a plane.
It definitely is a different bird.
A reminder of an event past.
Or…a continuation of a moment that was cut too short.
Bored with the rest of the house, the bird returns to you. You instinctively hold out a finger, and it plops down on you, its snowy complex sending a cool chill through your hand.
“I-If you’re here, then so must—”
The bird interrupts you with an animated tweet, looking past you, as if it has caught sight of a long-lost friend.
It lifts from your finger, flying back outside.
Following it, your hand slightly raised in protest, you turn around.
“Hey, where’re you goi—”
Then, you’re cut off, your words stolen from you.
Just inches from your face is a head of shaggy, snowy white hair. The back of a deep blue, frost-covered hoodie is merely centimeters from your fingertips. Your proximity lets you catch a whiff of pine trees and winter.
You take a leap back out of surprise, your eyes never wider, your heart threatening to beat out of your chest.
A long, wooden staff leans casually on the windowsill, its hook slightly invading the room. The cardinal has taken another perch on the pale finger of its creator, who is leaning against the windowsill, elbow propped up on the small ledge.
With a final, musical chirp, it flies off into the night.
It…it can’t be…
After watching the cardinal fly away for a few seconds, he stands up straight, taking up his staff in the process.
And then, he turns to face you.
A pair of wintery, deep blue eyes lock onto yours, accompanied by none other than the mischievous smile that you have come to know all too well.
You clasp your hand on your mouth, your jaw dropping. You take another step back.
“Heya, snowflake.” He leaps up onto the sill, balanced lightly on the balls of his feet in a crouch, his free hand resting in the pocket of his hoodie. “Long time no see.”
You blink and squint, going as far as pinching yourself to make sure this isn’t all a dream.
He chuckles, his eyes twinkling. “I’m real all right. It’s me, (your name). Y’know, me,…”
You feel confused, happy tears begin to well up in your eyes. He’s there. He’s really there…