—This Piece was an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Micro-Fiction Contest—

It would be a waste.

A man asked to have his teeth shattered so he could retrieve one. He held it in his mouth while climbing down a tree, like a lightbulb.

The mouth is a spoon for starling meringues. Eggs rot if left unblown.

We have threads loose at the hems from blackthorn, bark scrapes on the inner knee. Willow baskets filled with rags. Backpacks soaked with rain that smells like cedar.

You do not crack them into glass bowls. There is a special drill, very small. We used to pinprick but that was unreliable. Albumen and yolk come burbling out in wet slurps. Sometimes, in a moment of terrible luck, the whole yellow can squid its way out; spherical, unbroken.

Sometimes the shells are thin as foil, gnawed by rats or pesticides: they cave in stickily to webbing, like mosaics.

Oology. Like moons, craters, calico. Spectrum: cream-of-jade to gasoline and indigo. Delicious.

Some collected them late, pierced them, left maggots to eat the not-quite-birds. Wet feathers almost-oiled, translucent beaks almost-fluted. It isn’t right.

You whisk very delicately, some yolks the size of fingernails, some thick and marbled. You chop sugar, squeeze fists of herbs, into the whites hiding thread-thin veins.

We keep them in our cabinets like stolen geodes, lining vanilla ice-cream tubs with cotton wool under our beds. Numbered and named on slips of yellowing paper. Opened, they give off an acrid smell, like steel.

Kingfishers spat fish in our faces. White-tailed sea eagles dove for our eyes. Flashlights nearly caught us, dashing over hilltops. Sirens.

Home, we ate them in pastry, handful, glass.

We go to jail four or fifty-one times. From condor to avocet nest. We deserve it; in our buttery aprons, with our wet hands and hair.

Delicious. Celery straws with baked Manx shearwater, spiced in a clay dish. Soft-cooked golden eagle with warm toast fingers. Four whiskey warbler sours, on ice. Vanilla osprey custard; Earl Grey butter cookie crumble. Redshank omelette with bacon. We eat them together.

If we fell from trees, we too would shatter, soaking from our skulls like split milk, and none to gather us with typewritten labels.

When we were young we loved the tin-wrapped ones, the taste of sugar-paint. Lined up all the different colours. 

Elodie Olson-Coons is a ghostwriter and translator currently based in Switzerland. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in [PANK], Paper Darts, Lighthouse, and The Literateur. She tweets @elllode.