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Short Story: Caged
By Allison Martin
My mom bought me a bird. And no, I had no intention of letting it live. I was planning on drowning it, or maybe giving it to the cat to eat, but something stopped me. It was in her eyes. Yes, that must be it. If those eyes were gone, plucked out by something, I wouldn’t have hesitated. But the slight pause in my actions gave me time to think over what I was doing. I looked at the bird. She looked at me. She was small and yellow-green, like a lemon that wasn’t quite ripe. Her eyes were black. They sparkled.
I stopped trying to force her into the bucket long enough to really take in her eyes. I put her, gently, onto the floor, and then I sat and hugged my knees while I watched her sit and stare at me. I blinked. She blinked back. It was odd how small I felt compared to her. I somehow felt that she was so much greater than me, so much…what’s the word…purer? I held out my hand. She hopped into the palm that had been, a moment ago, trying to submerge her. She blinked and nuzzled my fingers, eyes half closed, forgiving them, accepting their apology. She looked at me brightly and chirped. It was a high sound, like the staccato notes of a flute. I looked in disdain at my own violin, and wondered why it would never sound so kind, so pure, or so innocent.
I smiled weakly at her. She smiled back. She flapped her wings once, head raised, ready for take off. She paused. She flapped.
She started beating her wings furiously, panicking, not used to being grounded. She looked at me hopelessly, and let out a sad little chirp.
“It’s okay,” I said to her. “I can’t fly either.”
"But I have to!”
“It’s not that bad,” I told her. “If you can’t fly, you can’t fall.”
“Why can’t YOU fly?”
“I don’t have wings.”
“When did they go away?”
“A long time ago,” I said. “Ages. They were crushed.”
“Lots of stuff,” I shrugged. “Myself, mostly. They just kind of faded as time went on.”
“Does everyone lose them?”
“No,” I said quietly. “Only the good ones get to keep them.”
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