Sparrow MAG

September 19, 2008
By pandafyre BRONZE, Grinnell, Iowa
pandafyre BRONZE, Grinnell, Iowa
3 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
“You dress in shadows, brother, but there is starlight in your eyes”

-Elizabeth Bear, All the Windwracked Stars


Every morning I look out at the streets but I don’t watch the cars. I watch the people – the fat man who sells hot dogs on the corner, the newspaper lady wearing the neon orange vest. Sometimes a kid rides by on a bicycle. Other times, the elderly woman who lives one floor down will put a leash on her German shepherd and then will be dragged two blocks before disappearing out of sight around the corner. They all do that, at some time or another.

I sit still for so long that a bird – a little sparrow with twitchy eyes – lands on the sill. Its feet shuffle back and forth, back and forth, until it is level with me. I am sitting straight, but I am small, so my chin is even with the sparrow’s beak.

“Hello there,” I say. I imagine the vibration of my voice has scared the tiny creature as it flies off. My eyes return to the street where the traffic light has changed in accordance with the rising sun and drifting river of commuters.

A long time ago, a girl was killed on that corner. I remember the day because it was my birthday, the twenty-second. Double twos.

She wore her hair in a braid, and jeans and a red shirt like the kind that can be found in the thrift shop on 53rd Street. Her skin was brown from time spent in the Californian sun, and I remember thinking, This is a long way from California. The worst part is that she didn’t know what people were like here. She’d seen gangs and once even lived in a neighborhood where gunfire was a constant concern. She’d been to funerals; the funeral of her sister, specifically. She was no stranger to death, and yet she didn’t understand!

I am not seeing the street any longer. The glass reflects the glare of the light, blinding me. In that glare I see the yellow taxi swerve to the left. I see the young businesswoman on the sidewalk, talking distractedly as she crosses the street. The light is green! Don’t walk! Please, don’t walk.

I see the green car. The man inside is a drunk because his girlfriend cheats on him and every Friday he goes to the Puss ’n Boots to get back at her. Her mother is dying. Her mother dies of cancer even as he flirts with the redhead in the silk camisole. Even as he pretends to have an excuse.

The taxi screeches to a halt just inches from the businesswoman’s shiny black shoes. She glares at the driver, a sweaty gray man who has been in the business 25 years and has never run anyone down. Just three dogs and a cat.

She is so distracted that the green car is on her before anyone who is not watching can blink. Thump!

Time does not freeze. Times moves just fine, but perception is off because the businesswoman is not lying on the asphalt, sprawled out in pain. She is panting on the sidewalk, cell phone crushed beneath the tires. Her neatly coifed hair is askew, eyes wild and disbelieving as they take in the young girl with brown skin. The girl is so still, her face pale – she is not Indian after all.

I sigh into the window. It is autumn now, and the air has adopted that crisp snap that warns of the coming freeze. From now on, every night will be terribly cold, especially for those who sleep alone, as the businesswoman does. I can only hope that she is changed, but in the end the only thing that I can do is wonder.

The sparrow is back, pecking away at a black bug racing across the window. Both predator and prey are blocking my view, so I can only see the first few letters of the hot dog stand and a blur of orange that is the newspaper lady.

“I’m sorry,” I tell the bird through the window. It pretends not to hear. “But I don’t have any food for you. You’ll have to tough it out on your own. Do you hear?” The beetle is crunched, and with a flurry of wings, the bird disappears.

The glass is a mirror and a window at the same time. I can see the fat man and the elderly lady now, but I can’t see them as I used to. They are not people anymore; I don’t know what they are. Souls, perhaps?

The door creaks open so fast, with only a jingling of keys for warning. I spring out of my chair, and turn sharply to face my new roommates.

They are a young couple toting a bulky baby carrier. Haggard faces, black ovals beneath weary eyes. They look Dutch. I’ve never met anyone from … where are the Dutch from, anyway?

They set down the carrier, and the baby, who has been making an abominable fuss, quiets instantly. Surprised, the couple look dubiously down and then exchange long glances.

“I guess Susan likes it here,” the mother says.

The father rubs his eyes. “Thank God.”

But I know differently. The baby is staring at me. I stand over her and touch my pale fingers to her forehead. She laughs and reaches up, trying to catch my hand, but her chubby little fingers pass through mine. Again and again, she tries, until her worried parents pick her from the carrier like a ripe apple. The mother retrieves the ingredients for the formula while the father rocks her, singing the same lullaby my father sang me once, a long time ago.

I am too busy for the street. My roommates are always moving, doing something. If it’s not the parents, it’s the child, who has taken a liking to passing her hands through my stomach and face as if I am some sort of will-o-wisp. The couple is somewhat bewildered but pleased with the sudden contentedness that radiates from the baby.

“My name was Francis,” I tell her at night. She watches me with huge brown eyes as I recite the story of my life, as I try to make her understand what I see when I look out the window. I wonder, as I do with the businesswoman, if she will remember me when she is older. But for now, all I can do is rub my fingers across her forehead and whisper stories of sparrows and heroes.



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This article has 164 comments.


on Oct. 10 2011 at 5:11 pm
Victoria.S BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
4 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Someday you will look back and know exactly why it had to happen."

This is really good!

on Oct. 10 2011 at 9:14 am
autumndisaster, Woodberry, Other
0 articles 2 photos 6 comments
This is quite an amazing piece of work. 

Aurelie SILVER said...
on Sep. 18 2011 at 10:55 pm
Aurelie SILVER, Bellevue, Washington
6 articles 3 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm dying of boredom. Or maybe just dying" -Megan Whalen Turner

This is really beautiful!

on Sep. 18 2011 at 4:57 pm
emilybwrites SILVER, Villa Hills, Kentucky
5 articles 0 photos 112 comments

Favorite Quote:
last night i lay in bed, looking up at the stars and i thought to myself, where the heck is the ceiling?

great job!! this was fantastic! please check out my poem "Forgotten Domain" and comment and rate! thanks:)

on Sep. 18 2011 at 5:46 am
Rocinante SILVER, Wexford, Pennsylvania
7 articles 1 photo 386 comments
Wow, and I agree with HollerGirl26 that it makes more sense at the end, but the whole thing is beautifully well written. It has such imagery, and such detail, it's amazing. Great article!

Lletya BRONZE said...
on Aug. 28 2011 at 5:07 pm
Lletya BRONZE, Aurora, Colorado
2 articles 1 photo 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
All we ever wanted you to be, is to be yourself! If everyone leaves the show that night feeling better about themselves, then we did our job. Its a social experiment, slash art project. We're trying to change the world and help alot of people. MCR

I get it now!  Thanks for clearing that up. <3

on Aug. 27 2011 at 6:39 pm
Odessa_Sterling00 DIAMOND, No, Missouri
87 articles 108 photos 968 comments

Favorite Quote:
All gave some, some gave all. -War Veterans headstone.

Great job!

on Aug. 27 2011 at 9:37 am
singinginthegardn GOLD, Cowell, Massachusetts
16 articles 2 photos 158 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anaïs Nin

The narrator is the ghost of the young girl who got hit :) HOW CLEVER IS THAT?!

on Aug. 27 2011 at 9:33 am
singinginthegardn GOLD, Cowell, Massachusetts
16 articles 2 photos 158 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." ~Anaïs Nin

Oh my..that gave me chills!! Very surprising..I love the ending :) IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!! <33 you are extremely talented..fabulous job :D

on Aug. 5 2011 at 12:39 pm
Lola_Black GOLD, Harrison, Michigan
11 articles 2 photos 276 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've always been famous. It's just everybody's just now finding out." --Lady Gaga

Oh my God, I love this story! It's so sad, and so beautiful. Please, keep writing!

Sayuri97 GOLD said...
on Aug. 5 2011 at 12:37 pm
Sayuri97 GOLD, Gilford, New Hampshire
12 articles 0 photos 49 comments
beautiful! I could see everything so clearly! 

Brynn BRONZE said...
on Jul. 14 2011 at 4:43 pm
Brynn BRONZE, Aubrey, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~Bilbo Baggins

I seriously have tears in my eyes right now.  This story is amazing.

on Jul. 14 2011 at 1:04 pm
HollyBell BRONZE, Orpington, Kent, Other
3 articles 0 photos 23 comments
This was a very unique story, and really well written too. You deserve all the praise you get for this story. well done. :D

Steph said...
on Jul. 14 2011 at 9:57 am

I think what happened is that the narrator is a ghost; she died because she got hit by a car to save the businesswoman.

If I'm wrong, please correct me. :)

BTW, loved it. Absolutely beautiful and smoothly flowing story. It made me cry...


on Jul. 14 2011 at 7:57 am
RhythmAndRhyme BRONZE, Rockford, Michigan
4 articles 0 photos 91 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There's no half-singing in the shower, you're either a rock star or an opera diva." ~~Josh Groban

This was a great early-morning read! :) Excellent descriptions. I loved the hints at everyone's life around/from the narrator. All in all, a great piece. 5/5.

on Jun. 22 2011 at 4:37 pm
Jacy-Lee PLATINUM, Stonington, Connecticut
21 articles 2 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
Love to learn, learn to love

This is an incredible piece of writing. You are very gifted, and I especially loved the detail that you put into this. Excellent job.

on May. 31 2011 at 10:29 pm
CassandraStarborn, Cedaredge, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"The best path from here to there is not always a straight line."

That was amazing. I could see the passion and skill, while getting totally absorbed in the story.

niimabear GOLD said...
on May. 31 2011 at 9:39 pm
niimabear GOLD, Wakaw, Other
12 articles 2 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
I don't have a favorite quote, but I do have a standard by which I live. That standard is to follow God's will for my life, knowing that only he can truely make me happy. I believe that God takes the bad in life, and uses it to bring goodness.

Bravo! I didn't see the endind coming. Well done :D

on May. 31 2011 at 8:05 pm
CanNeverHoldMeBack GOLD, Manhattan, Kansas
10 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
friendships are like glass. sometimes it's better to leave them broken then hurt yourself trying to put them back together again.

Oh my gosh!! i was listening to this song called you were there by Michiru Ooshima while reading this and it fit perfectly!!! other than that, i truely love the article. i really does deserve to be published! :D keep up the good work!!!

on May. 31 2011 at 5:53 pm
WynterPage95 ELITE, Monticello, Arkansas
164 articles 8 photos 76 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's better to burn out than to fade away..." -Kurt Cobain

oh my god...that's all i can say is oh my god. i love how you think she's a real person at the beginning and then at the end you realize she's the ghost of the dead girl...absolutely amazing!




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