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Caged Bird

My name is Delilah. I used to be strong, but I have been broken. Now I am weak.
My best friend is a boy named Carson. He has brown hair and grey eyes. We are both 15, but he's older than me by a few months. A year ago, he was the star of our high school track team. His favorite thing to do was to run. He told me it made him feel free. I believed him. Every time he ran, I would watch his feet, moving faster and faster till he reached the finish line. He would stretch out his arms like he was a bird soaring across the sky and smile a crazy smile. It was his passion, his joy, his true love. If he couldn't concentrate or was frustrated or sad, he would run. It was his way to escape the world. We both knew that one day he would be the best. Until the accident.
It was early June and school had just finished. The summer air was warm and thick. I was walking to Carson's house, ready to hear his exciting news he frantically called about. As I neared the corner of his street, I broke into a run, overcome by curiosity of what this exciting thing could be. I knocked on the door and Carson's mother opened it. "You better get inside," she said with a smile, "I think he'll go crazy if he doesn't tell you soon." I walked into his bedroom. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet, grinning uncontrollably. "Sit down," he told me breathlessly. I sat on his messy bed. He took a deep breath. "I qualified for the Junior Olympics!" he blurted out breathlessly. I put my hand to my mouth. "No way!" I screamed. "Yes way!" He exclaimed with the same ecstatic expression on his face. I jumped off the bed and hugged him. "I think this calls for ice cream!" I declared. He nodded in agreement. We dug through his freezer, finding our favorite flavors, chocolate and raspberry. We sat in silence out on the front porch under the blaring heat. A soft breeze blew through the trees and the birds whistled to each other. At that moment, my heart felt light. Nothing could bring me down. Knowing that Carson was happy, made me happy. Until I checked my phone. I sighed loudly, seeing that it was 2:30. "What's wrong, Delilah?" He asked. "I have to go to dance practice," I replied, grumbling. "I don't see why you hate it so much," he said, "you're really good." "Just because I'm good doesn't mean I like it." I said with a little too much anger in my voice. Carson gave me an annoyed look. I sighed again. "I have to go." I said. "Bye." "Bye," he mumbled.
It was 4:30 when my mom picked me up from the dance studio. "What's wrong?" She asked, seeing my melancholy face. I gave a sigh. "I don't know, mom. It's just..." "Just what?" She asked again. "It's just that I don't like to dance," I said quickly. "But Delilah," she exclaimed, "you're really good!" I rolled my eyes. "I just don't feel a passion for it, like Carson does for running. When he runs, you can see how much he loves it. You can see how it makes him happy." My mom replied, "Do you want to quit dance?" I nodded. She looked at my face. "What's wrong?" She asked with a worried expression. "It's just that Carson will be mad," I muttered. "He believes in me so much. I don't know how he'd take it if I told him I quit." "Oh, honey," my mom murmured and gave me a one armed hug. "It'll be okay. Just tell him. If he's really your best friend, he'll understand."
It was evening and I was laying outside, staring at the quickly fading sun. "Hey, stranger," a warm voice called to me. It was Carson. I gave him a faint smile, nervous to tell him the news. "Hey." I replied in a shaky voice. "What's the matter?" He asked. My heart started pounding like a drum. "Nothing," I finally said. I decided to tell him later. The last thing he would want to know is that I wasn't going to dance any more. He walked up the front steps and sat down on the porch swing. "'Delilah," he asked. "Are you sure everything's okay?" I nodded my head, but he saw right through me. "C'mon. It's okay." He gave me a quick hug. "Okay," he said soothingly. "Just tell me what's wrong." I took a deep breath. "I think... I think..." I stammered. He gave me a reassuring look. "I think I'm going to quit dance." His eyes widened, shocked at what I had just said. I don't think Carson had ever heard the word "quit" before. "No, no. You can't," he exclaimed, "No, Delilah! You can't quit!" I became frustrated. "I can quit if I WANT to Carson! And I DO!" I replied. I gave a frustrated sigh. Carson was shaking his head, trying to calm down. "No, Delilah," he said forcefully, "I won't let you. You're too good to throw away that talent." "You're not the boss of me!" I exclaimed. The sky had finally become dark. His face was covered with shadows, but I could still tell that he was trying not to yell. I stomped my foot. My eyes were starting to blur with tears. "I guess you're really not my friend. If you were, you'd let me do what I want!" I ran down the porch and started to cross the street. "Where are you going?" He called to me desperately. I turned around to face him. "Why do YOU care?" I screamed. "You don't care about me anyways!" He suddenly gasped. "RUN!" He shouted. I turned around, and a pair of bright headlights were coming towards me. I panicked and froze, not knowing where to go. Suddenly, I was pushed out of the way. My head hit the concrete with a rebounding crash. I started seeing spots, and I struggled to stay conscious. I turned around, and almost passed out again. Lying behind me, with his arms wrapped around my knees, was Carson. In a daze, I sat up and put my hand to his arm. I then looked at his legs and vomited. It was a bloody mess of skin and splintered bones. I gave a strangled groan. "Carson," I mumbled, "Carson." I shook him, but he didn't respond. "CARSON!" I screamed. "CARSON, WAKE UP!" He didn't. He must be dead, I thought. He must be. I heard footsteps and a gasp. Someone shook me. "Are you all right?" A startled man asked me. "Carson," I moaned. The pain and shock was becoming to much. I collapsed on top of Carson's back. The world suddenly went black.
Beep. beep. beep. What's that strange sound, I thought. Everything was still dark. Where was the light? Where was the sky? Beep. Beep. Beep. What is that infernal sound? Why can't I see? Maybe I'm dead, I thought. That's it. But why would it be so dark? Why would there be such a strange sound? Is this all what death is, a cold darkness and an annoying sound for eternity? I realized I must still have some sort of body. After all, I was laying on something. It was soft and cool. I tried to move my arm. I wiggled my fingertips. Then lifted my hand. There was a small sound. "She's moving, SHE'S MOVING!" It was my moms voice. My moms voice! But how to communicate to her was still unknown. Suddenly my eyes blinked open. I was in a small white room, lying on a hospital bed. Tubes were protruding from my body in strange places. My mom was holding my hand with one hand and wiping tears from her face with the other. "I'm so glad you're okay!" She murmured. I suddenly realized that we were the only people in the hospital room. "Where's Carson?" I asked. My voice was raspy and weak. My mom bit her lip and looked at the ground. "Where's Carson?!" I asked frantically. My mom was still staring at the ground, shaking her head. My mind was suddenly filled with images of the accident. I remembered his bloody mass of a body. "He's dead, isn't he," I said. I rocked back and forth in my bed, unable to do anything else. My heart monitor went off like crazy. The nurse rushed in. "Calm down," She exclaimed. I didn't hear her, and started to shake. "Carson," I whispered. The nurse walked out of the room. My mom finally spoke up. "He's not dead. Carson's not dead," she said gently. "Then where is he?" I asked. She shook her head. "He's having surgery right now," she said. "Surgery?" I asked, "why?" "Well," she replied, "when he was in the accident, his legs were completely crushed." She paused and took a deep breath. "They had to amputate them." My eyes grew wide. "Am-amputate them?" I stuttered. She nodded silently. I felt a joyous rush inside of me. He wasn't dead! I fell back onto my pillow, with eyes full of tears, thankful he was okay. Then it hit me. Carson would have no legs. How would he run? I stared at the floor feeling helpless. "It's all my fault," I whispered, "it's all my fault he can't run." My mom shook her head. Standing up, she wrapped her arms around me. "No Delilah," she murmured, "it's not your fault." "Yes it is," I replied, "I was about to get run over and he pushed me out of the way. If I hadn't run into the street, he wouldn't have been hurt at all. It is my fault." I felt faint. "Mom," I muttered, "I think I'm gonna pass out," she called the nurse as the world slipped into darkness again.
One week later, I was standing outside of Carson’s hospital room. I was going to see him for the first time since the accident. My mom was next to me. “You don’t have to go in if you don’t want to,” she said to me. I shook my head. “I have to be strong. For him.” My mom smiled reassuringly. “I’ll stay in the hallway,” she said as she sat on a bench. I reached my trembling hand out and knocked on the door. A faint “Come in,” answered me. My heart leapt at the sound of Carson’s voice. I pushed the door open, expecting the worse. Carson was sitting up in his bed covered in blankets. I smiled apprehensively. He smiled back. “Hey stranger,” he said. “Hey…” I replied. I was looking at the blankets where his legs would be. “Do you want to see?” he asked. I nodded, captivated. He pulled them off. I gave a small gasp of shock. Without asking, I reached out and touched the bandages where the rest of his legs should be. Suddenly, I was overcome with guiltiness. “This is my fault, Carson. I’m so sorry,” I sobbed. He grabbed my hand. “No, it’s not,” he reassured me. “Yes it is,” I replied. “If I didn’t run into the street, none of this would’ve happened.” “And you would be dead,” he cut me off gently. “I wouldn’t be able to live if I knew I could’ve saved you.” I sniffed a few times. He handed me a box of tissues and I wiped my nose. “But how will you run?” I asked, “What about the Junior Olympics?” His gentle smile faded. He stared at where his legs used to be. “Sometimes,” he said, “you have to give up on your dreams, even when you thought they were possible.” His eyes welled up with tears. I gave him hug, even though I knew that it wouldn’t really help. “I guess I won’t really ever be able to run again,” he said, “Even with prosthetics, the doctor said that I wouldn’t be able to bend my knees well enough to run.” The tears started dripping down both of our faces. He handed me another tissue and grabbed one himself. At that moment, I felt completely vulnerable and weak. The pain was ripping me apart, piece by piece, like a knife. Carson put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay,” he said hoarsely. “I still got you, and that’s what matters.” I shook my head. I would rather be dead. It was my fault that my best friend wouldn’t be in the Junior Olympics. It was my fault that he ended up like this. He was like a bird soaring across the sky until I captured him and put him in a cage forever. It was my one mistake that ruined everything.



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