From the Clouds

By
Decked in feathery pink boas and glittering skirts, Victoria and I grinned before the eye of the camera and leaned our heads together for a quick pose. We were best friends. We argued about Pokemon and played Gameboy; we walked up to my aunt Terri's and stuffed fistfuls of candy into our pockets, we laughed and shouted and chased each other barefoot across the yard.


Then we saw the cat gliding up the slanted wooden stairs to the deck, his tail standing proud and erect, a fat gray plume. Fluffy had always thought he owned the house, and that was just fine with us. Rescuing him from the shelter as a kitten two years before, when I was six, had been a sudden decision, but a happy one, and we had never regretted it.


I did not think anything of his sudden appearance. Fluffy slept at my feet most nights, but in those days, when he was younger, he also spent many long hours out beneath the stars, roaming the neighborhood and stalking along the fence, and sometimes we did not see him for days at a time.


Victoria and I ran to the sliding glass door and heaved it open. We peered down at our feet to see a lump of brown feathers and a orange beak. A baby bird. We stared sadly at the lifeless little body for a moment. Blood had soaked into the deck all around it. Then I gasped. It was alive! It may have been weak, but it quivered faintly in the breeze, and the delicate feathered wings curling up around its tiny body stirred with life.


"Mom, look!" I shouted. "It's not dead!"


My mother stole a glance down at the trembling bird. She frowned.


"It's suffering, though."


Victoria and I looked up hopefully.


"We can save it! Right, Mom?"


We set to work right away. Below the deck and next to the garden, we placed a small cardboard box and nestled it full of dry leaves and grass. Our bird friend would be cozy there. However, when we went to scoop him off the deck, he wasn't there. We panicked, and scoured the yard for him. Finally, we discovered him spread out on the cement. It appeared that he had dragged himself to the edge of the deck, and to our horror, fallen off. It was a drop of nearly fifteen feet.


Refusing to give up hope, we settled the bird into his cozy new resting place and gathered up some worms and grass to feed him.


"Here you go; you must be hungry," Victoria cooed, reaching a dark hand into the box. The bird wouldn't eat. We watched over him all afternoon, but he showed no sign of recovering. We poked food at him with growing anxiety, but he would only regard us with his big, shiny brown eyes.


That night, we crouched down before the box, and gazed down at the bird with wide eyes. Mom rested a hand on my shoulder. The bird was dead. I knew his last hours had been only a fluttering fight with death, but I just couldn't forget those eyes. I thought he had been strong enough to survive. I imagined him soaring above the trees, as his wings snagged upon an updraft, and he glided smoothly into the sky. In just a few short hours, that dream had been snatched away, broken and discarded as if it had never been. Just a few short hours. I gazed up at the sky, but no tears would come. Those eyes would have looked down on the world from the clouds.





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tamara d. said...
Aug. 5, 2008 at 1:33 am
really thoughtful and touching work
 
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