The Canary

January 8, 2012
It was a beautiful day, sitting upon the tree limb, strong and reclusive. I could see everything, the white picket fence surrounding my yard, the small children running through the cul-de-sac and a young girl pondering on the wooden swing tied to the tree in front of her home. With the sun tickling my cheekbones I climb higher upon the old oak. I wanted to feel the burn of the sun across my bare arms. My head peeking above the leaves of the oak I look up and see brightness but feel nothing, so I looked out in to the distance to see life beyond, but the sun was too strong, all I could see were the roofs of the homes in my neighborhood and nothing further. Straining I tried see past the confining light, but in return my eyes watered and a tear fell upon my pale arm. I watched it drip off my finger and cascade onto the oak leaf and dissolve in to the veins of the oaks hand. I peered closer to the green leaf, my nose brushing it’s branch, seeing it’s makeup; thin, breakable. I cradled the leaf with my hand before slipping it between my fingers ready to tear it when a yellow canary landed on the branch above. Its eyes a darkness I have never seen, like a night without a moon and stars, peered in to mine. My own reflection shone through, my hair tied back with a ribbon and my favorite Sunday dress with the bow around the waist, I exuded youth mixed with curiosity. My eyebrows furrowed and my grin was crooked, this was all new. The yellow bird small eyes blinked quickly, I could no longer see myself in its gaze just pure darkness and as quickly as it came the bird flew away, retreating. I followed its small body until it disappeared in the brightness; I longed to see where it nested. I climbed down the tree to search, my Mary Janes stretched to find contact with the ground, I felt my feet graze against the dirt when the bow upon my dress got snagged on the Oaks limb. I tore at it eager to find the bird with eyes darker then night. I pulled and tugged but it would not budge. I was locked in the trees grasp, I kicked my legs at the trees trunk, suspended in the air I look down to see that in a few short feet I could discover a new thing, one that cannot be seen from the Oak tree. Eager then ever, I grabbed the branch between my two delicate hands and pulled down…down…down, until I heard the snap and landed hard on the ground. With the limb in hand I searched for the bird, I looked up to see it’s yellow body, but instead I was greeted with a shock. The pure brightness had dispelled, and in its place was a baby blue sky, it was beautiful. I spun in a slow circle, searching the sky that never stopped but then when I was taking one last look before the continue of my journey I saw smoke billowing in to the sky on one continuous stream. I stood on my tip toes to see black smoke rising from a gray pillar rooted upon a building, ugly and large. I turned my head because I didn’t want this new found beauty to be ruined by an insignificant building, one that appeared on fire at all times, so I started my journey in the opposite direction, towards the front of my house. Everything looked different from above on the tree, what I thought was garden, is actually a muddy patch filled weeds, I disregarded my misconception and started towards the picket fence surrounding my house. I opened the wooden door to the cul-de-sac, the slam of the wood hitting metal startled me, I looked back to see the latch of the fence hanging askew. What a peculiar sight to behold, I had never seen my house on the other side of the fence; I looked to my bedroom and to my oak tree behind the house. It looked a bit barren and the leaves were turning a strange shade of brownish- green. I wanted to run to it, to make sure it was okay, but right now I had better things to do. I searched the cul-de-sac to find nothing, it was too small of a place for one to hide, it was too confining. I wanted to see more, but had not a clue as to where go. Overwhelmed with a sense of uncertainty I sat on the curb in front of my house, I sat and listened to the shrills of children coming in front of me, I stood up enthusiastically, wanting to join in on there play, it wasn’t until a moment later when I realized they were not playing. They were running away, a kid with a scraped knee limped next to another young boy whose hair was tousled and face red with exertion and tears. It was then when I saw three other boys chasing them on bikes not too far behind, with rocks in their hands and laughter booming out of there mouths as they followed the young children in hot pursuit. I watched on scared as the kids ran for safety, how could anyone be so cruel? My eyes brimmed with nervous tears as I walked away, I needed salvation but I couldn’t go back to the oak just yet. It was then that I saw the wooden swing where the girl had been sitting, I sat on it and held on to the ropes and pumped my legs. I felt almost at home being near an oak alike to mine, I pumped harder and higher, closing my eyes as the wind brushed at my face, I was so lost I didn’t hear the door slam. An angry old man looked at me, the young girl under his arm, he opened his mouth and I could hear the shouts before they came, so I climbed off the swing as fast as possible and ran in to the middle of the cul-de-sac. I stood there as cars made there ways past, I heard degrading music blasting through speakers, I looked in a window of a home to see two adults fighting, jaws clenched and eyes fierce. I turned away and looked to see in another house, two toddlers staring at the television in their living room entranced while the parent in the kitchen eating dinner as well as watching another TV which held scenes of soldiers fighting and death notices below. What a meal. I turned again to see a flash of yellow my heart skipped; I found my canary. I had almost lost sight at what I had set to do, but with my oak stick in hand I made my way to the yellow bird resting on the grass. As I neared I realized the bird was resting: resting forever. It’s eyes shut, it lay in the grass unmoving…and I ran. I ran through the picket fence, around my house, searching for the familiarity of my oak only to find it missing. I turned a circle, to see my parents, now strangers. They’re hair turning shade of gray, there skin pale and creased, a piece of my dresses bow in my mother’s hand.





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