Today, instead of hearing things inside the wall, I'm hearing things that aren't there. Probably.
Every time the water heater (or the water cooler, or the refrigerator) clicks on and starts humming, I prick up my ears. Is something alive in here? Every twitter and chirp that I hear from outside takes a second to process. Is it in or out? Even the acidic gurgle in my stomach is unsettling.
A couple of times, when I walked past that wall, I'd hold my hand against it, not to try to feel anything, but just to remember. That's more than the mother starling does. Once it got quiet on the other side of the grate, she lost interest.
That's as it should be, of course. Despite all the Disney cartoons with dancing caterpillars and singing magpies, despite Babe and Chicken Run, animals are not people. That doesn't mean they don't have as much right to the land, air and water as humans, but they don't sit around talking politics and dreaming up ways to put one over on the farmer.
We could probably take lessons from them about moving on, keeping priorities straight, and not dwelling on things that can't be changed. I know I could.
On the other hand, the deeper family ties, the respect for life, the willingness to take on the impossible... these are all aspects of humanity that spring from our ability to think and feel in more complex ways than animals are capable of.
The death of a baby bird that I never saw has more meaning for me than it does for other birds. I like that about myself, even if I haven't liked myself much these last few days. When this week started, I was screaming at this creature to die and leave me in peace. Death came slowly, and peace will take a bit longer.
The silence is lovely, though.