The Child

By
My mom once told me a story about a passionately in-love, though barren, young couple who found an injured bird on the sidewalk in their city park. The man and woman tenderly scooped up the bird, went home, and nursed him back to health. Deeply devoted to the needs and comfort of the bird, they fed him several times during the day and night. Neither the man nor woman got enough sleep; even when they were not directly tending to or indulging the bird, they thought about him and worried. The lovers immersed themselves so completely into the bird that soon, who was the man, the woman, and the bird became amorphous and not important. They pampered him, cooed at him, clapped gaily when he chirped. A week later, he died.

The sterile man and woman became warped: they felt like elderly, withered beings who had been old, had grown up old, and would die old. At midnight, the night of the bird's death, the man and woman buried the bird in the backyard by flashlight. The woman was choked by sobs. The man took his masculine duty of shoveling and hauling the dirt. The woman bent down when at last the bird inside his shoebox had been covered and kissed the tips of her fingers. She grazed them on the red-brown Earth, the round light shining directly on her fingertips. A strange thought entered her numb head: of touching the moon and hell simultaneously.

Neither the man nor the woman dreamed that night, or the next. The once wildly fervent blood that coursed through their bodies froze. No longer was the blood turbid and awry, for they knew what it was like, and knew now they would never experience that feeling and responsibility again. God was not a word they knew or understood, faith had been buried alongside the bird, and malignant thoughts of betrayal and emptiness, like inescapable vines, crept up and out and intertwined with their lethargic hearts and her forever-empty womb.

In a way, the man and woman were buried with the bird, but with grief and foulness. The woman's smooth hands had turned gnarled. They could not remove these feelings; they seeped into their skin, which had now reformed; the man and woman were separate, detached, clinical entities whose only purpose as man and wife was unattainable.

Hysterically, the deathly pale and enervated woman would stand straighter, clinch her hands so tight the nails bit into her skin, and scream to no one in particular that the bird did not have enough room; it needed a coffin.

She finally had a dream weeks later: she stood in a fertile pasture in the bright sun, the wind blowing her long, brown hair behind her. Immediately however, the atmosphere around her changed: the pasture became brittle and desolate, an empty, useless wasteland. “No, I am not that,” she shouted at the Earth, and then the woman woke up, drenched in a cold sweat. She looked over and her husband was sleeping with all the blankets.





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sykitty said...
Jan. 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm
i like it...its really good! keep writing!
 
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