At lunchtime she could hear people shooting birds at the small airport next to her school. There were debates in the playground over whether the shots they could hear were fired to scare the birds or whether people were actually killing them. There was also a debate over whether the shooters were authorised by the airport or whether they were bored men who just couldn’t wait until clay target practice on Friday night.
When the girl asked her cousin about it, the older girl frowned and told her about the problems birds can cause if they get trapped in the propellers of small planes. She said that sometimes the pilots wouldn’t notice until they were flying over the Blue Mountains, when they’d see feathers falling from beneath the wings of the plane.
The younger girl imagined the shadows the bird carcasses would cast over the mountains and valleys below. She decided she did believe that birds were being killed, and that this was systematic. At lunchtime she asked her teacher whether birds were more beautiful when they were dead or alive, but the teacher was busy eating honey-soy chicken and rice and couldn’t say.