There once was a boy and a wild bird. And they were close friends. Some people thought it odd that a boy and a wild animal could be close. But those who knew the boy. Who knew the bird, saw the happiness that they brought each other. And really, that’s all that’s important. What made them the same, not what their differences were.
The bird sang her song for the boy each day, trying to find new ways to make him smile. To make him happy. Because that’s what made her happy. She’d sometimes fly to far mountains and forests, but she always came back, eager to show him a piece of that adventure. Be it a pebble or a twig. And he in return, he taught her to see and hear the world in a new depth. He gave her song it’s magic.
The boy was stuck. Stuck in his little valley. And although he was happy, he knew he would only be truly happy once he left and found his real home, the one his soul ached for. She understood the feeling. She was after all a wild bird and knew you couldn’t stay in one place forever. For years they had sat under stars together talking about plans and dreams so she knew how important it was to him. Together they had cried; laughed, binding themselves closer with these strands.
The time came for the journey to begin and the boy was very happy. But he was also scared. He was scared that somehow she’d get lost and that people wouldn’t understand a bond between a wild bird and a boy. So he put her in a cage to keep her still close but also protected.
The bird loved the boy and couldn’t imagine the world without him in it. So she stayed in the cage, even though she was a wild animal.
They set off together, along an unknown path. They didn’t know how long or difficult the journey would be. The only thing that drove them on was they both knew it was important. He deserved to be happy after all these years of talking about it.
Over the days, the bird found she didn’t want to sing. Her life was now controlled and it made her anxious. When and what she ate was decided by him, although he always tried his hardest to make it her favourite. She appreciated it, but it made the food taste like cardboard. He’d decide when he’d put her cover on her cage at night to sleep. She knew it would be coming, making her count the minutes she could still see the sky, before being plunged into darkness. It was not knowing when it was coming that made it hard. Then she’d sit alone. Cut off from the world. A tiny voice wondering if he’d remember to come back in the morning.
The journey continued, the bird always hoping that the end was just round the next corner. Over the next mountain. Because she knew she was fading.
The anxiousness and sadness started to make her feathers drop out.
She saw how happy he was on his adventure so she tried hard to find her song and ignore the sadness. And he loved the bird, so he tried to distract her when he could and ignored the quietness and falling feathers.
The bird had a lot of time to sit and think in her cage. And she realised that soon he would start to resent her. This sad, defunct song bird. He wanted to be happy. And how could he be when he looked at her? So she had to decide. To stay in the cage and hope she made the journey or leave. All she knew for sure was that she was a wild bird. And that you can’t cage wild things. They die. No matter how hard they want to live.
(postscript) After I showed this to the person who inspired this piece, he asked if I’d had Charles Bukowski’s Bluebird in mind when I wrote it. A poem he had introduced me to several years ago. I didn’t at the time, but having reread the poem I think I must have subconsciously. And that made me smile. See. I think there is hope for this wild bird.
(march 2016) The bird stayed in the cage, but the boy was happy in his new life. And he made it clear that there was no room for the bird in it every time he forgot about her or lied. The bird was not something that added to his life in any way any more, so he let her go. It’s going to take the bird some time to grow her feathers back. But she will.