Valentine's Day

On the sidewalk three pigeons are gathered around an open, heart-shaped box of chocolates. Not a single one has been taken by a human hand. Each has been bird-tasted, their outer coatings pocked, crumbled, exposing their various insides: nougat, caramel, coconut. The birds clearly have their preferences. The nut-toffee is barely recognizable—mostly crumbs, while the milk truffle has hardly been touched. The pigeon team is organized into an exact triangle—one on each side of the heart, the third at its base point. Having evolved for efficiency in collective feeding, they waste no energy skirmishing over the spoils, unlike blue jays or starlings. Their symmetrical, almost Roman formation serves to ensure each a fair share. It also discourages any other birds from staging a raid. An intruder has two choices: to poke in between two hefty linebackers, or try to drop down from above and light onto the candy box itself—right in the middle of three pecking beaks. None brave enough to attempt it, the sparrows watch from a safe distance, waiting for the pigeons to become glutted with their prize and move on.

Three floors above the scene, a woman observes the pigeons’ progress from behind a paisley curtain, phone in one hand, coffee cup in the other, deleting text messages one by one.

Rebecca Minnich grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and has an MFA from the creative writing program at City College of New York, where she received the Meyer Cohen Award for Excellence in Literature. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Coffin Factory, Promethean, POZ, MAMM and Z magazines, among others. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature at City College of New York. She is author of the blog, No Life Without Books.