There's this porcelain owl statue your wife keeps in the kitchen that's always out of place. You buy a security camera. These two things are related.
She accuses you of moving it. You aren't moving it. That would be stupid.
The camera, it stores video to cloud storage so you can see everything you're missing when you're gone. It's a good buy.
You set the camera up and leave it alone until one day you see the owl turned to stare directly into the camera. You're almost excited to see the owl moved. You open the video, watch on fast forward until you see a sparrow fly into your kitchen window. It crashes violently and then dies. Then another sparrow smashes into the same bloody spot the first did. Then what must be a hundred birds smash into your kitchen window. Kill themselves. Lie in a pile of dead talon and feather.
You rush outside. There are no birds. There isn't even a stain on the window. Inside, on the screen, your kitchen is normal. Nothing's different, except the owl is facing the camera. You delete the footage and move the owl back. You don't mention it to your wife.
In the shower, you think about the birds. At work, you think about the birds. Over dinner, your wife says you seem out of it.
Days later the owl is moved again. You pull up the video. You watch as a well-dressed man sits at your kitchen table. Your wife brings him an uncooked steak and three raw potatoes.
In the video, the owl is facing the right direction, but your wife, she's wearing just an apron while a man in a full suit has sex with her on your kitchen table. It's uncomfortable. You look away. When you look back, the man, your wife, the owl, they are all staring at the camera.
Your wife says you're an asshole when you accuse her of having an affair. She says you seem different lately. She says she doesn't understand you.
Days later, when you come home, you find a handwritten note on the table. She's leaving you. It says she wasn't cheating. It says you're scaring her. You haven't seemed like you in weeks. It says she wants you to be happy.
Her important stuff—clothes, toothbrush, computer—it's gone.
The owl, it's on the window sill. Its ceramic eyes follow wherever you go.
You realize you still have the camera. You can watch her leave you, maybe even write the letter.
Onscreen, in the video, you are alone, naked, covered in motor oil.
The screen you draws a pentagram on your kitchen table. The letter appears. Screen you lights it on fire. Screen you lights everything on fire. Screen you is covered in oil and burning, melting. Screen you turns, faces the camera, and repeats the name of a cat that ran away from home when you were nine until you—the real you—deletes the footage.
Jeremy Bronaugh is the author of When You Bleed to Death and the co-founder of Hypertrophic Literary. He is able to regularly lift and carry items weighing up to 20 pounds as well as occasionally lifting and carrying items weighing up to 40 pounds. He is able to stand for prolonged periods of time and has reliable transportation. Contact him at twitter.com/jeremy_bronaugh