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jelynne in paper_tale

This Place of Wings

It never fails. I resolve to spend November trying to write more than usual, and then end up spending the first week-and-a-bit of the month pretty much not writing anything at all.

But then yesterday I gave myself a good hard look and said to me “Okay Jenn, you’ve been slacking off terribly on this whole writing thing, so you’re just going to sit and write the first thing that pops into your head.” And et voila! A story appeared!

Apparently, I sometimes listen to me. Who knew?

Word Count: 420
Genre: Drama
Rating: G

Nothing but the sound of birds.

This Place of Wings

Charlie all but lives in the room of cages, amid the bob and twitter, surrounded by the flutter of a thousand wings. He likes it there, with no company save for the birds themselves. Other people mystify Charlie. The birds are far simpler to understand.

There is very little of anything human in this place. There’s a desk and chair, shoved in between the banks of cages at the end of an aisle. And there’s a rolling table-cart, its bottom shelf packed full of birdseed and gravel, of sandpaper tubes for perches, bottles of water, garbage bags, and eye-droppers already pre-loaded with measured doses of vitamins, minerals, or medicines. Everything else is the domain of the birds.

As Charlie makes his slow, interminable rounds from cage to cage up and down the aisles with his cart, he whistles. The sound is reedy and tuneless, but the birds cock their heads to listen. Sometimes they sing back to him, and Charlie smiles at their answers to him.

The room is never quiet. Even at night, when the covers are rolled down over the cages and the birds are asleep there’s always the soft sound of feathers, the occasional sleepy chirp and tsk. Charlie has forgotten the sound of silence.

Occasionally, Charlie will fall asleep in the room of cages, sprawled across the desk. In the not-silence, his dreams are always the same.

A hundred cage doors opening, one by one. The wind-rush noise of an infinite thousand wings against sun-blue sky.

Charlie wakes with a jolt, with a sense that his skin isn’t fitting the way it’s supposed to anymore. He rises, and makes his rounds again, carefully touching each and every cage.

There are five large windows evenly spaced along one wall. They’re the old-fashioned kind that swing inwards on a hinge. On summer days, Charlie opens them as wide as they will go before starting his rounds. Thick screens still cloud the view, but at least the air starts to taste like wind instead of feathers.

Charlie is meticulous in caring for the birds that live in the room of cages. Their food bowls are always full, their water always fresh. He mists regularly for mites, and carefully keeps their nails and beaks properly trimmed. The gravel at the bottom of each cage is changed daily.

When he finishes his circuit, Charlie returns to the windows. He stares out through the screens at the cloudless sky and whistles to himself - reedy and tuneless, fingering the box-cutter in his pocket.


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January 2012

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