Flight of The Mind

Set them free…

She stared at the small cage, which suddenly looked smaller than usual. The tiny orange bird was fluttering within it, moving from one side to another, clinging to the metal rods in an awkward way that never seemed normal–even for a bird. She stuck her index finger inside of the cage, the bird responded by perching on it comfortably. It knew her well, knew her routine and her intention. They were old friends, or so she seemed to think.

The bird shook its orange-yellowish feathers, and as they extended, she could feel a comforting stroke of her finger. The bird was comforting her. 

“Shouldn’t it be the other way round, birdie?” she asked loudly, “after all I am not the one in the cage”.  She looked around her, examining the walls of the small room, the aged posters, the small window, the yellowing bookcase, the lumpy bed, and the broken mirror. It was the mirror in which she seemed to be fragmented to tens of pieces, torn into unidentifiable shards of some former self. She slipped her finger out of the cage to caress a red scar on her face, just where her eye used to be. 

The bird fluttered once more.

“I am dreadfully sorry. Where were we?” she asked faking a British accent, fanning herself with an imaginary handheld fan. She imagined herself in one of Jane Austen’s novels, where they had to curtsy and speak eloquently. “Do pardon my feeble manners, Mr. Birdie,” she continued, “I was not bred to conform”.

A shard seemed to capture her attention once more. It was her other eye. If she partially squinted –just enough so as not to become completely blind– she could pretend that she was normal, or as one of her relatives once told her “not a freak”. 

The cage rattled as the bird flew forcefully inside it.

“You seem too eager today,” she said, “you think things will change, don’t you?” The bird flew forcefully inside the cage once again, rattling it even more. 

“Settle down now,” she suddenly shouted with all her might, flinging some books with her hands. The bird cowered in a corner as she breathed loudly. 

“You know what happens when you annoy me, don’t you?” she said, and the bird squeaked as if answering her.

“Then why do you do it? You know how much I love you!” she said gently, almost murmuring, just as if she was whispering love words to a beloved on a rainy day. She put her finger inside and started to stroke the birds’ feathers. 

The bird softly fluttered its wings, gently producing calm squeaks that culminated in some kind of music.
She laughed. Her larynx produced one of the loveliest throaty laughs known to man, a laugh that many used to vie for its attention. A laugh that made man fall unto themselves to please her, and women envy her for the control it gave her. Yet, it was that same laugh that died some time ago, and with it died the pleasure, the envy, the desire, the attention and the crowds. They all died the same day that she died. The only problem was someone managed to bring her back to life.

She had the radio on as she did most days. It was the company she kept, and at the rare chance of broadcasting songs, the little bird would hum delightfully to them as it fluttered from side to side within its confinement. It was the company it kept.

She could hear in the background of some falling tyrant. She wondered if anything falls other than dead bodies.

“Do I oppress you, birdie?” she asked in a sly tone. “Do you despise me?” she poked the bird. “Do you loathe me?” she poked it again. The bird squeaked something that seemed to indicate pain. His eyes seemed to indicate something of fear, and yet there was still hope. Despair has not yet lodged within his tiny heart.

She moved away from the cage. “You know, you just annoy me,” she said in disgust. “All you do is squeak and flutter all day. You do nothing. I feed you, clean you and care for you, and what do I get for it?” she stared directly in his eyes. “Nothing,” she shouted. “I get nothing, no thanks, no gratitude, just those sad little squeaks and an annoyingly defying look.” 

“How sickening,” she shouted again, louder this time, as she spat on the floor.

The bird seemed unable to move. She did not face the cage, but instead stared at the yellowing bookcase, and the crumbling books within it. She seemed to tremble.
She spun around, and her eye was bloodshot red.

“I want to give you all that you want,” she whispered coyly, “I really do, but you have to give me some time, and some space. You have to allow me to prepare myself, and when I am ready, I will give you all you ever wanted. We will both be winners.” She smiled and approached the cage; she was towering over it.  

The bird fluttered to the opposite corner.

“I am sincere. I really am. You have to believe me,” she continued as a tear fell from her eye, landing inside the cage, shaving the bird’s wing. The bird then fluttered haphazardly all over the cage, in a state of panic.

“Hear me, you useless piece of shit,” she shouted as she took hold of the cage and shook it violently. The bird was at her mercy as he kept hitting one side of the cage after the other. It knew that it could do nothing, but it was determined on weathering the storm.

After a couple of seconds, she regained her calm and set the cage down.  She walked to the other side of the room, looking at the cage from a distance.

She sat on a small, black stool, clutching her face within her hands. She shook violently, and all of her body seemed to tremble under the strain. 

The little bird flew to the other side of the cage, looking unto her with concern. He held on to the bars of the cage, twisting his tiny claws tightly around them, squeezing them as if they would disappear if he squeezed hard enough. With his legs still clutching the bars, he started to flutter his wings, stretching them as far as he could, and shaking the whole cage as he moved violently inside it. The rattle he made was new, and unheard of before. He didn’t even know he could produce such rattle. He never knew it was inside him. Encouraged by the tremendous sound, he kept going, moving his wings with passion and purpose. To his restrained perspective, the whole room seemed to shake. He felt that he was on the cusp of a breakthrough as everything seemed to tremble. He was certain that things would change, fall apart, and never be the same again.

He was certain.

She looked at the cage. It was moving, more so than it has ever moved before. She moved towards it. The cage did not stop shaking. Within her, she admired the tiny bird’s determination, but out loud, she just laughed.

“The leaf may shake, but that doesn’t mean the tree would too. You’d think that a bird would know,” she mocked him.

“Oh, I am sorry. You have never seen a tree before, have you?” she asked mockingly as she laughed louder, and louder. Her laugh seemed to go on forever.

Everything stopped moving; the cage, she stopped laughing, the bird stopped fluttering, and the world seemed to come to a still.

Suddenly, the whole room shook. Things seemed to sway violently, and the whole room started to crumble bit by bit. First the aged posters fell to the floor, crashing and splintering their glass all over the floor, and then the yellowish bookcase produced the harshest of sounds as it was slammed on the floor. It was followed by the mirror, which distributed silver dust all over the room as it splattered on the floor. As the room kept shaking, the windows burst, and everything seemed to be falling upside down.
She was still clutching the cage as the floor fell from underneath her as it started to crumble. Her throaty laughter turned into a shrill, chilling scream as she started falling into the abyss. She looked to the bird, with a pleading look. Her eye seemed to indicate something of fear, and yet there was still hope within it. She looked at him defiantly. 

The cage fell from her hands, and landed outside the window, as her shrill scream filled the tiny bird’s inner ears.  

A tiny creek was heard as the cage door opened to the world outside. The little orange bird stepped onto the edge of the cage, staring at the world before him. Nothing seemed familiar. Everything was new, some things seemed hostile, and others were unidentifiable. He dreamed of this moment for a long time. His moment of freedom, of sheer free will, of flight, of exploration; he could not cower in fear now, not when his dreams have finally came to be realized. 

He extended his wings completely for the first time, and a feeling of warmth overcame him. He found himself uttering the sweetest of melodies in celebration of that momentous occasion. He felt the pride of his efforts. With happy thoughts, and overwhelming pride, he took flight. 

It was a moment of sheer felicity.

It was a moment that would not be felt again as the felicitous dream was shattered by the pangs of reality.

The tiny bird found itself in a bigger cage.


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