The Bird

September 28, 2013
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I stare into the dull eyes of a bird. Its small body clutches the tree branch tightly, as if afraid to fall. Really, there’s nothing special about the bird; it’s a robin, I think. Judging from its lack of color, it’s probably a female.

“Why are you here?” It asks quietly.

I break eye contact and bring my gaze to the sky. There are no stars tonight, no moon. Nothing has changed since my decision.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “Wanted to see what came after.”

The bird cocks its head at me. “Is it how you imagined?”

“Not really.”

It solemnly bows its head. “Oh.”

We sit together in silence for a while, the bird and me. I shift from my position on the branch and lie against the massive tree trunk, fingers pressing into the rough bark. We are high up in the tree. So high up, the ground has fallen away from our bodies and the sky is so close I could ask it for a dance.
There is nothing here but the tree, the bird, and me. I’m okay with that I guess. As long as there are no people and calloused hands, I’m sure I’ll be fine.
The bird stretches out its wings uncomfortably and shuffles its feet on the branch. “Most people come here when they’re really, really sad…”

I try to sigh, but realize I’m not breathing. The night is suddenly colder, more foreign. A familiar loneliness darkens my vision.

“I wasn’t sad,” I say, “Just…” I stop when the lie slips from my voice and close my eyes. “It was too much. Everyone left.”

The bird chirps softly in understanding, and it hops closer, as if to comfort me.
It’s all coming back now: the emptiness, fake smiles, stolen laughter. The memories press against me, taunting, jeering. I press my hands against my temple and wince. I had thought, when making the decision, that it would be the end. I had thought that it would make it all go away. Dead people weren’t supposed to sit in trees and talk to birds. Dead people weren’t supposed to feel.

“Were they really that bad?” The bird asks, and with the question comes millions and millions of other questions, all of them crowding my head and whispering, whispering, whispering until the battered remnants of my mind can hold no more of these sharp thoughts. I shake and dig my fingers into the tree bark until they are as white as the absent moon, and try not to remember the people I left behind.

“I’m sorry,” says the Bird, “I’m sorry.”
I am sorry too. I am so, so sorry. I am sorry for what I did and didn’t do. I am sorry for what was said and for the words that were muted and shoved into corners of cobwebs and dust. I am sorry for pushing her away and for pulling him close. I am sorry for turning the radio up when Mom tried to tell me she loved me one too many times. I am sorry for thinking that the walls of a bathroom cell would be enough to hold back the bad things.
There are too many things to think about here, where there is nothing. I cover my ears but the sound of his voice still rocks my mind with deafening clarity.

“You’re not alone,” insists the Bird, “I’m dead too. I am. I am.”

There is no sun in this wretched place. There are no stars, no moon. There is only the Bird, my thoughts, and me. Nothing has changed since my decision.

I am still the girl who tried to fly and found the earth loved me too much to let me go.

I am still alone.

I am still dead.

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