A few days later Paul and his parents had moved into their new house in the city. Although there was still a lot of unpacking to do, Paul could tell that his mother already felt at home. He had installed the birdcage by the window that faced out onto the back yard so that the bird could see trees and greenery, in case she was afraid of the cars on the street. She had been very quiet so far, but Paul wasn’t worried, at least not yet. It was all strange to him too, and he hoped things would settle down into a routine soon.
His school was still on vacation so he didn’t have to go to classes for another couple of weeks, although his mother was anxious to take him shopping to buy supplies and appropriate clothes. It seemed that there was a dress code but not an actual uniform. Paul was glad about that, having spent so many years free to wear whatever he wanted.
He tried to explore a little bit. He went to the park at the end of the street, but found it to be occupied mostly by mothers with young children so he hadn’t spent much time there. His mother had been talking about inviting people over for a house warming once everything was unpacked, but Paul didn’t know anyone yet so he wasn’t sure how that would work out. His father went to work every day as usual, but came home at a more reasonable time since he didn’t have to travel so far.
Basically life was rather dull! Paul tried to talk to the bird every day, bringing her food, especially her favorite cookies, but the bird remained quiet. At first she had chirped when he spoke, and when he gave her a piece of cookie, but she never sang. Paul tried to encourage her to sing, but to no avail. In fact, she didn’t even chirp much now. Paul was beginning to worry. “Don’t you like it here, Bird?” he asked her sadly one morning. “I thought we could be happy together, even if it’s far from the pond and our tree. Won’t you sing your beautiful song for me?”
The bird just looked at him and then turned away, hanging her head. Paul’s mother came over just then. “Paul, I don’t know about that bird. It doesn’t look right.”
“I know, Mother. I think she misses her home in the forest. I haven’t heard her sing once since we came to the city, and she has the most beautiful voice. What should I do?”
His mother looked at him intently. “Well, Paul, when you take someone away from what they love in life they kind of fade away, like they’re not really living. Do you know what I mean?”
“I think so. Her feathers used to be the most beautiful golden color, and now they look faded. And her beautiful voice is gone. It seems like she’s fading alright. I guess I’ll have to take her back to the forest.” Paul’s voice shook slightly as he said that, but he squared his shoulders and looked at his mother. “I can take her back tomorrow. There’s a bus that goes twice a day. I’ll be back before dark.”
His mother just nodded. “I’ll give you money for bus fare,” she said. “And then we’ll go shopping to get you some new clothes for school, and whatever else you need,” she said brightly, turning to go back to the kitchen leaving Paul with his bird.
“Did you hear that, Bird?” Paul said. “We’re going back to the forest tomorrow. I can’t keep you here if you’re unhappy. I don’t want you to fade away. I want you to be free to sing!”
Copyright © Jennifer P. Tanabe, 2015