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The Tale of Thomas Xavier Dashington
This is the tale of Thomas Xavier Dashington.
Now, to begin this story I would like to explain two things about Thomas.
One…Thomas was a very strange boy. The whole town talked about the “queer Dashington boy and his odd ways.”
Two…Thomas had a very strange gift. His very strange gift was that he could talk to birds.
“Wait a minute!” you might say, “talking to birds, what an idea.” But I swear to you Thomas Xavier Dashington could speak to birds. He didn’t just imitate their calls. He understood them and could converse with them like one of their own kind. Now you might think with a talent such as this young Thomas would be renowned. Not so, for poor Thomas was shunned for his queer ways. As he sat whistling to the sparrows in the bushes at recess the other children would avoid him or hurl insults at him. But Thomas didn’t care. He ignored the hurtful words and angry glances, and continued speaking with the only creatures that completely understood him.
Besides birds, the only people Thomas felt he could really talk to were his parents and a young girl named Eva. She was a pretty little thing with dark penetrating eyes, a wild imagination, and a full heart. She would watch Thomas and wonder what went on inside his head. She tried to imagine what he was thinking by the expression on his face as he chirped away to his feathery friends. Every day she longed for the courage to speak to him, and every day she found she wasn’t brave enough. Until one day, during lunch it happened. As they sat outside enjoying their sandwiches, a small finch flew from its perch beside Thomas and landed right at her feet. It cocked its head at her and gave a merry chirp. She raised her eyes and glanced at Thomas, and from that moment on they were fast friends. All Thomas needed was the approval of his birds before he made his first friend. For years they played together. Thomas would take her to the woods and tell her about all the different types of birds, the cardinals, and robins, and hawks. Each had its own story. Eva listened enraptured as Thomas told wonderful tales of their lives and the things they had seen. Other days they would imagine themselves as gypsies, roaming the land, never finding a place to settle, but always having an adventures. The next day they would be outlaws skulking through the woods avoiding bounty hunters out for the reward on their heads. Every day was filled with adventures. And through all of it Thomas’s birds kept them company. They were major characters in each story they imagined. Every waking moment Thomas and Eva spent together. They were soul mates, twins separated at birth, and the other children despised them for it. They were never included in the other children’s games, never invited to their houses, but it didn’t matter.
Thomas’s parents knew he was special, and they loved him for it. They worried, as all parents do, that he didn’t have enough friends, and that he wasn’t getting out enough. But he was polite, obedient, and respectful, and they had no reason to think that his fascination with birds was harmful to him. They nurtured his passion. They bought him books about them, took him to wildlife reserves, even bought him his own. (Which he later released. He couldn’t bear to think of a caged bird). They loved Thomas with all their hearts. And he loved them back so much, in fact, that he couldn’t truly express how his heart was filled with love for them. They were his best friends. His protectors. His mentors. And he knew that without them he would be truly lost.
For many years Mr. and Mrs. Dashington, Thomas, and Eva lived, worked, and played together, all the while growing closer and closer.
Until one day…
…one awful day…
…both Thomas’s parents were killed in a terrible accident. So great was his grief no one, not even Eva could console him. He ran to the forest where nature’s loving arms enfolded him. There he lived, alone, with only his birds for company. Every moment he was awake he spent talking with them, crying with them, remembering with them. Only they seemed to know the monstrosity of his pain. All around him the woods grew larger. The trees towered what seemed like miles above him. The smallest creatures were huge giants. Thinking his anguish was making him delirious, Thomas paid no attention to it. But one day as he went to the stream to drink, he saw instead of skin…feathers, instead of a nose…a beak…and instead of arms…wings. He had transformed into a bird. With a full heart he soared into the midnight sky, reveling in his new form. He flew through the town, intoxicated by the adrenaline running through his veins. But then in the midst of the darkened houses below, a single light shone in a solitary window. He swooped down and lighted upon the windowsill. A young woman lay on her bed, a tear stained letter written in childish scrawl clutched in her hand.
You are my bestest friend, and always will be. I hope I am yours too.
When Eva woke she saw a finch sitting on her windowsill. His head was cocked to one side, but no merry song came from his beak. A tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered her best friend and the wonderful times they had spent together.
…and the birds.