Sneak Peak: Caged
Once, there was a beautiful bird who loved flying high more than anything in the world. She was a daring kind of bird, was never afraid of anything. She always flew higher than her friends, even when the weather was frightening and dangerous. Flying made her feel so free. With the wind on her face and under her wings, she was sure there was nothing she couldn’t do. The other birds all watched with envy as she soared high above the treetops, swooping down to rest only when the sun began its nightly descent. Some called her foolish for taking such chances. Some admired her for it. She was a small bird, sometimes mistaken for a young child, but her eyes were bright and her heart happy.
Until the storm came.
It was a dark and misty night when it rolled in. The clouds grew fat with moisture, they were harder and harder to break through. Birds scattered everywhere, seeking shelter. Except the small bird. She was naive, thought she could stand it. Even when the rain began to fall, she flew on, certain she’d have time to find a good tree to rest in before the danger became too great. It wasn’t a normal rainfall, though. Instead of a drizzle, it was an instant downpour. Thunder and lightening crashed. The bird began trying to fly down to a tree, but she’d been too high in the sky, it took her longer than it had if she’d been flying at the same altitude of the other birds. Panic seeped through her bones, making her flap her wings faster and faster. The tree was in sight, surely she’d be safe. She never saw the strike of lightning, but she felt it. Her whole body trembled, unable to move, and she felt herself hurling toward the ground, faster and faster. She cawed loud and long, but no one could rescue her.
The impact must have knocked her out, because the next thing she remembered was waking up. There were bars around her. She was in a cage, had been captured and caged while out of sorts. The storm ended, but the cage remained around her. It was kept outside, so the bird could still see the sky. Every day, she looked up at it, remembered the feeling of being free and fought valiantly to escape. Again and again, she flew into the bars, but she’d always get stuck and have to fight her way out. The bars were too small, she was never able to break free of them. Day after day, she tried squeezing herself out.
But she couldn’t. She stopped eating, then stopped trying to break free of the cage. She would fly as fast as she could from one side to the other, but the cage was so small that she was never able to fly long enough to feel wind under her wings. She wasn’t able to feel the rush of speed, or the freedom of wild flight.
Eventually, she stopped flying from one side of the cage to the other. She could hardly remember anymore what it felt like to look down and see the other birds flying so low. She could barely remember what it was like to be free, to see something besides bars, to fly until she was breathless. She could barely remember that there were different towns, different types of trees, different landscapes. Instead, she could see only the bars and the busy, congested street outside the cage. She could hear other birds and, every so often, she could see them too, if one landed near her cage on the ground. But the other birds were always just a hair shy away from being able to hear or see her. She sang, but no one recalled her song.
Until one day, the blue bird landed near her cage. She saw him, sung out. He hopped toward her, and the small bird became more and more excited, perhaps this bird could help her get out of the cage. She called again. And this time, the blue bird looked toward her, he did see her, she grew excited. “Open this cage, get me out of here.”
But the blue bird looked at her strangely. Maybe he hadn’t heard. “Come on, please, just unlock the door,” she pleaded.
“What are you talking about?” The blue bird asked.
“I mean this cage. Quick! Help me unlock it.”
The blue bird looked at her strangely for a minute, then said slowly, as if he were talking to a child, “What are you talking about? There is no cage around here, you’re just in a nest, bird.”