The Finch in My Sister’s Hair

By Judy Darley

My sister Ilana and I each have long hair the shade of bark, but while mine gleams from brushing, Ilana claims her finch prefers tangles to roost behind.

My sister no longer opens her eyes. She says the finch does all the seeing she needs. I think of how Ilana and I split from a single egg, Mum’s womb nurturing us both. Ilana’s bones are twigs poking through skin. I try to remember when I last saw her eat.

I worry that the finch wants to go higher than our height. It tweets into Ilana’s ear until she nods and turns from me towards the bluster of leaves. 

I gather fallen boughs and build a treehouse in the strongest oak I can find. When I guide my sister’s hand to the lowest branches, one eyelid flutters and her fingers knot through mine.

Judy Darley can’t stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her fiction has been published by literary anthologies, magazines and websites in the UK, New Zealand, Canada, US, and India. Judy is the author of short fiction collections Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me to the Bees (Tangent Books). Her third collection, The Stairs are a Snowcapped Mountain, will be published by Reflex Press in 2022. You can find Judy at  http://www.skylightrain.com