It was the way the blackbirds poured over him that made him feel small and insignificant, and feeling insignificant was enough to sadden anyone. Feeling sad was the cost of being alone, but being alone was never reason enough to be lonely – that came with feeling small and insignificant.
When the cornfields in his mind cast the blackbirds out and flung them across the hazy horizon, it looked at first, from a distance, like dark-colored shoes were tossed about in many directions at once. The blackbirds, it seemed, always moved in his direction then grew larger and larger until they were enormous enough in their numbers to sound fan-like as they beat past his ears and cawed just above his head. It was always best to stand hard and face the blackbirds, but to turn with them and watch them rise and circle back was also a thing worth doing.
Watching the blackbirds always cleared Eli’s head, but it was only when the birds sprayed upward from the fields and fanned out overhead that Eli felt petty and unimportant. But that is the way it was with watching blackbirds rise, and circle, and then fall again; it was the same every time. This time was no different, except that perhaps, because this time he had finally gone through with the threats, he thought, that things did somehow seem better. Eli thought about what he had done and he was okay with it. He was okay with it, and his head was clear, and feeling okay and having a clear head meant he did not need to think about it any longer. But still he thought about it, and he remembered it, and remembering it made him angry.
Eli did not like to be angry. Being angry confused him, and when he was confused he panicked and when he panicked he made threats and when he made threats they were mean to him and they held him tight with the unfriendly weight of their bodies. Sometimes they held him hard to the cold floor of the infirmary and with his cheek pressed firm to the parquet he watched their black shoes fly about in many directions at once. They gave him shots and then held him tighter and when they held him tight and close, Eli cried out and kicked and tears filled his angry eyes and he choked and spat more terrible threats until the shots came and after the shots came the birds returned and it was the way the blackbirds poured over him that made Eli feel small and insignificant – and to feel small and insignificant was always enough to sadden even Eli.