Chaos Theory by Dawn Miller

I flip my dampened pillow and stretch my arms, the bed too wide for one. Through the window, starlings punch the sky in a liquid mass. A blood-orange sunset edges the treeline. I wonder why the birds are called a murmuration; they should be called a heartbeat. The fridge is stocked with cheap red wine, but not merlot—I don’t drink that anymore. Your guitar stands in the corner, dusty as the travel books on the shelf. A rainbow of sticky notes marks the dog-eared pages.

Someone tells me energy doesn’t die, it just changes form; there are patterns if we stop long enough to notice. Losing you couldn’t be arbitrary, could it? Guitar chords echo with each unravel of wings. The opposite of chaos.

I hide your motorcycle—it barely has a scratch—under layers of grease-stained tarpaulin in the garage and lie on the dock, a soft blanket heady with woodsmoke wrapped around my shoulders. Birds ebb and flow in a synchronized black cloud. My legs dangle off the edge and my toes touch the water. The lake laps against the pilings, the docks swaying with each ripple.

Your voice is soft as you strum “Blackbird,” and then pause to sip on Merlot ripe with raspberries and sweet tobacco. You call it afterbirth instead of aftertaste like the boss on The Office. I laugh so hard that wine dribbles down my shirt. We buy books like Top Ten Sights in Rome. The Little Black Book of Italy. Beautiful Ruins. I tell you my three favourite things: You. Your voice. Your lips. You tell me yours: Me. Music. Stinky cheese.

We fly through back roads lined with cedar and white birch and drive all the way to Bobcaygeon. We are one, you say and place a palm on my chest before I climb onto the back of the Harley, if I lean, you lean.

At night, you wrap the blue chenille throw around my shoulders and we race down to the shore to watch the mass of birds swoop and wheel against the candy-pink sky. There’s beauty in the changing shape, you say. Nothing random about it.

You show up with a shiny, silver motorcycle and two matching helmets as a murmuration of starlings undulates in celestial strangeness, and I know that day I’ll love you forever. 

Biography: Dawn Miller’s most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fractured Lit, Typehouse, and Jellyfish Review, among others. She lives and writes in Picton, Ontario, Canada. Connect at and on Twitter @DawnFMiller1 and IG @dawnmillerwriter