Night Birds

Anna Moriarty Lev

Photo Credit: Rebecca/BookMama

There was a stirring in her heart, an uncomfortable feeling she could not explain. When her mother asked what was wrong, she could only think to answer that a ship had sailed, and that its return was unforeseeable.

Perhaps it’s time you married, her mother said, gesturing to the line of suitors outside the door.

No, it’s not that, she replied. But agreed to see them anyway.

The first was too tall, and his voice traveled down to her in an echo. The second spoke too little for her comfort. The third had never read poetry. And so it went on.

The next morning she woke clutching her chest, a pinching pain restricting her breath.

Perhaps you have a broken heart, her mother said, do you sleep with the window open?

She did, and her mother explained how the night birds fly in through open windows while we sleep to steal our dreams and leave us with false ones, half-truths that haunt us as we wake.

If they’re hungry enough, her mother continued, they’ll peck at your heart, carrying pieces of it away so that it can never be fully repaired. I speak from experience.

The girl wondered at her mother’s experience, who and what she had loved in the past. Which pieces of her heart were missing. As her mother walked away to the kitchen and breakfast, the girl thought her a stranger.


There is a secret cavern deep in the Andes Mountains, closed off by a large boulder and hidden by optical illusions of the sun. In the deepest corner, tiny scraps of pink muscle tissue are preserved in a strange substance. There is some evidence of nests and eggshells, but no birds can be seen, only shadows.


Anna Moriarty Lev likes to tell all kinds of stories. In addition to flash fiction, she also writes plays and makes comic books. Her self-published titles Shelf Life and Fish Dreams can be found at comic book stores around the country. Her work has also been published in Bateau and Good Days, Bad Days. Please visit Lev Hardware for more of Anna’s work. If you can’t find her, she’s probably in a dark movie theater somewhere, watching something and eating popcorn. Email: annamolev[at]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email