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Limit of Desire
A boy, Will, woke up from his cozy and warm bed and pulled himself hesitantly downstairs, where the parlour was. The boy’s grandfather, Johnson, was building a fire in the fireplace and Will slumped into a rocking chair beside it. Surviving the winter in Ontario without roaring fire was impossible, especially for the grandfather who was aging, and grew chilled more easily.
“What is that?” Will asked his grandfather as he pointing out the window with one hand and rubbed his eyes with the other. The grandfather glanced for a moment and went back to building the fire. “That’s called an oak tree. That was here since I was your age, Will.”
Will got out of the rocking chair and went closer to the window and asked again more eagerly.
“No, not that one. The red and white thing.” The grandfather put the wood away and stood beside Will.
“That’s a bird, Will. An unique bird. Very unique.” The grandfather left for the kitchen to prepare breakfast, but Will stood at the window, sticking his nose on the frosty glass. The stem from his breath made the windowpanes fog.
“Have some soup, Will,” the grandfather called as he poured hot soup in a small china bowl.
“Is it potato soup?” Will asked with disgusted face. The grandfather said nothing but pushed the bowl toward Will who sat across the table.
“You know I hate vegetables!” Will yelled and scowled at his grandfather. The grandfather ignored Will’s usual grumble and began with his own bowl of soup. Then, Will started again with a sullen look.
“Don’t we have anything but potato soup? I told you I don’t want any vegetables in my meals!” Despite Will’s complaint, the grandfather kept eating. Will pushed the bowl further and further away from himself. Bang! The bowl fell down on the hard-wooden floor. Soup splattered everywhere.
“Will, you haven’t eaten any of the meals during the last three days,” the grandfather said as he picked up the bowl. By the time he finished wiping the floor, Will had disappeared to his room upstairs. The grandfather didn’t try to go up to him. He was used to Will’s poor temper. He sat silently in the rocking chair. He sighed and noticed that the bird Will had mentioned was still there in the yard. He hoped the unique bird would bring luck.
“Something must happen…it must…” he said to himself.
Later, the blue sky and the bright sun had given its way to darkness. Will tiptoed down to the parlous and say his grandfather was sleeping in the rocking chair. The fire he had set in the morning had gone out and only ash remained. Will crent closer to his grandfather and he, too, noticed the bird outside. Will shook him gently and whispered if he could bring the bird inside. The grandfather seemed to nod just slightly and they boy ran out to the yard as he grinned. Will rushed to the kitchen and picked a small piece of potato from the morning soup and put it in a small cage.
“Come on, birdie. Shh…shh…” Will coaxed the bird with potato inside the cage. The bird pecked the piece of potato and by the time the bird finished it, Will closed the cage. He couldn’t describe her beauty. The unique bird was pure white like his grandfather’s hair, and she had one red feather from her head. Will tiptoed back to his room with the bird and fell into a long sleep until early next morning.
Will woke pup from his bed and shivered. His room was very chilly. The first thing he did, even before going to the washroom, was to check on the cage. Her red feather stood out as if it was a bright star from an unending night. Will pulled her gently out of the cage. Will didn’t move. It was cold. The bird’s white feathers were grey just like the ash in the fireplace from the day before. With the bird cradled in his hands, Will rushed downstairs to the parlour.
The grandfather was still sleeping at the rocking chair. He too looked grey and cold. The grandfather slightly opened his eyes-just enough to see Will beside him. The grandfather coughed several times and saw Will’s pain-stricken face. Will handed the bird and started to sob quietly. The grandfather, sill coughing, plucked the red feather from the bird and studied it. Will was confused. Though he was still sobbing, Will reached to get the red feather from his grandfather. But the grandfather didn’t let him. Instead, he looked into Will’s frightened eyes and whispered softly as if the dead bird might hear him. “I knew she would die. I knew it, Will. She was so unique and so special, you wanted it. But keep this in your mind…you can’t just keep everything you want. You just can’t do everything you want. That’s the limits of desire…” And he let the red feather, let it fly. It floated and lightly danced downwards and downwards to the pile of ash in the fireplace. The grandfather stood up and put the bird in the fire place too, and then he put the wood into the fire place and set the fire. “No!” cried Will.
“Limits of desire, Will. The unique bird gave you a great lesson today…the limits of desire…: And the flame consumed up the ash with the red feather and the bird. Will watched the fire burn while the grandfather prepared the potato soup.