SHORT STORY | Written by Eric Christopher Jackson.
A young boy kept a beautiful bird found along the pathway to home. He marched around town telling everyone how precious a value he’d discovered. Staring at its feathers as they glistened in the sunlight, he bought an elaborate cage to hold an awesome sight.
One day, his grandfather stopped by to see his grandson on the ground beginning to cry. “Grandson, why all the frightful tears? My goodness, I haven’t seen you cry in years.”
The young boy began to wipe his eyes, “Grandfather, it’s good to see you. Perhaps, you can tell me what I should to do.”
“Ask away, young lad. Oh my, what is that?!”
“Precisely, Grandfather. I found this beautiful bird along the road. Built a fantastic case to hold it, just so.”
His Grandfather began to shake his head.
“But now, the bird I’ve grown to love so much, is trying to escape. What if it flies too far away for me to touch?”
His Grandfather laid his hand on the shoulder of his Grandson.
“And besides, Grandfather. What of the howling wolves, grizzly bears, and snakes? I have to protect it by keeping them away.”
His Grandfather knelt down, “This is true. A dangerous world, today. Yet, a bird has wings for a reason, I must say.”
The young boy’s countenance fell, “But I love and cherish the bird, you see. What if it leaves and forgets all about me?”
“Ah, but if you clasp the bird too much, it will die despising you. Is that what you want?”
“Of course, not,” the boy thought. “I assumed if you love something, you’d never give it up.”
“Quite true, in a way,” the Grandfather continued. “Yet, if you love and cherish this bird so, you’ll set it free. Deciding to go where it please.”
The young boy held his tears back all the more as he approached the cage, the bird’s wings flapping at a frantic pace. “Calm. Calm,” the little boy said as he cupped the wings of the bird in his hands.
Away from the cage, in the middle of the forest, sunlight broke through the trees. He looked back to his Grandfather hoping for a change in tune. No luck. He knew what he had to do. “I love you, little bird, with all my heart. Please, be careful. The world can be quite stark.”
The little bird bounced in his hands with such excitement, the boy assumed he’d never see it again. Hands opened slowly, the little bird tested its wings. Clear for take-off and so it did.
The little boy ran as far as he could, up the hill, around the bend waving as the little bird flew.
He swallowed his tongue to ask the little bird to come back. Instead, “I’ll root for you, little bird! I’ll always cheer for you,” as he ran out of breath.
He crashed to the floor, moving blades of grass from his view. “Please, remember me, little bird. I’ll always cherish you.”
He followed the silhouette against the setting sun until the little bird vanished on the edge of the horizon. He kicked pebbles and sand on the way back home, sulking as what he held was now gone.
His Grandfather held him as he buried his head in his chest. He never thought he’d show the most love by letting go of what he loved so much.