The bars of a song

 

A romantic man kept a very beautiful song bird. When the bird sang sweetly to him everyday his heart lifted. The vibrant colours of the bird’s plumage, which he took good care to preen often, delighted the man and many others.

The man pondered what he could give to the bird to make him happy to stay. He made a beautiful cage with a special perch, spray-painted in the birds favourite colour of black. He found the bird the best food, cared for him if he was ill, and tried his hardest to ensure his every need was met.

One day, an injured young bird flew onto the wind sill. The two birds talked and soon became friends, in fact more than friends. The song bird longed to be as free as his bird friend was. He longed to see the world and experience all parts of bird life. His bird friend was very ill and the song bird hoped he might fix him in this way. He didn’t mention any of this to the man.

So he became sad. His feathers, the envy of all the man’s friends who saw them, became flat. Before they had been iridescent. With the man, the song bird’s singing became rarer and the songs more sad. He changed from major to minor. Some of the songs became less true to life. The man noticed this, and wondered desperately how he could make his precious bird happy again. So he asked him the question.

The song bird thought carefully before answering – worried that he might upset the man, or might lose his place in the man’s life, or even worse in his heart. But the longer he waited to explain the truth, the more upset the man would become when he eventually knew the story.

Finally he plucked up courage and asked if he could fly out of the window, find his bird friend and fly away so that they could see the world together, see other bird life, have fun.

The man was upset that this was the first he had heard of the story, but said of course he could. He opened the cage door, threw open the window and stood aside to make way for the bird with no hesitation.

The song bird flew to the nearest tree, then sang out to tell his bird friend that he was free. His bird friend joined him quickly, and they took off. It was breezy and rough weather outside, but they stuck together and looked after each other. The song bird kept his bird friend under his wing.

They did everything and anything they wanted to. They were free. They made many happy memories. The song bird had happy memories too of the man.

The wind blew them to some good places, but also to some dangerous caves with highs and lows, which seemed fun at the time but were not in the real world. The highs and lows eventually caused more pain to the birds and their loved ones than the momentary fun was worth. The real world became more difficult to navigate. They started to avoid the bad places as much as they could, but it didn’t always work out like that.

The song bird missed the man and the merry times they had had together. He missed the man’s intelligence and wisdom, which he had always loved. They too had been through highs and lows together and the man had been trying to show his song bird how to live and prosper in the real world, by setting a worthy example. The song bird wanted to go home.

Again the song bird became worried, this time that his bird friend would be upset if he spoke the truth. But he decided that he really wanted to see the man again.

He told the bird friend, who had heard a little about the man but had never met him properly. He did not realise the love the song bird had for the man, nor that the man loved the song bird so much.

So the song bird turned into the wind and headed back, his young bird friend was very sad.

The song bird was now anxious. Would there be a new bird in the man’s life? Would the window be closed to him? Would his cage be locked?

Despite all these anxieties the song bird knew now what he wanted. He knew what he had to do. But he summoned up his considerable courage, fought the panic, and took the risk.

He finally reached the man’s place and landed on the window sill. Yes, the window was open as before. Indeed, the man had never shut it. Inside, the cage was still there clean, tidy, with fresh food and water for the thirsty song bird. It was safety.

There seemed no other bird in sight or sound. It was as if the song bird had never left. He smelled familiar odours of the house, the man’s aftershave, the aromas of his cooking. He heard the snoring upstairs.

He sat on his comfortable perch, put his head under his wing and he slept for the first time properly that night since he had left on his trip.

In the morning the man came into the kitchen as usual for his solitary breakfast. He played some of the song bird’s favourite songs on YouTube. For this was the song bird’s way of communicating his emotions which otherwise he found difficult to do. Listening to the songs was the way the man kept the song bird alive in his mind.

The man thought that his ears were playing tricks with him as they did sometimes because of the bad times of the past. But he was sure he could hear another familiar and sweet voice singing along to the YouTube songs.

His heart missed a beat. He dared not believe or hope what this might mean. He turned his eyes, red, brimming with tears, scarcely able to see, to the cage.

There sat his beloved song bird on the perch, somewhat bedraggled from the caves, but singing along to the songs.

Bird friends flew around outside calling. The cage door was open. The window was open. Yet the song bird sat there on the perch. Free.

From then onwards, the song bird sang to the man and made him happier than he had been in his whole life.

Now the song bird sang through the bars of his songs and never again through the bars of his cage.

2 thoughts on “The bars of a song

  1. Beautiful and very thought provoking. It sums up my conflicting feelings about my sons leaving for university. I’m going to share it with him x

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