The next day Paul set out with the birdcage, keeping the cover on so the bird wouldn’t be frightened. It was a bit of a walk from where the bus dropped him, but he didn’t mind. It was nice to be out of the city and breathing the fresh air of the forest again.
All too soon they arrived at the pond and he carefully climbed the tree. Opening the cover he looked in at the bird. As he took the cover off the bird blinked several times, as if unaccustomed to the bright sunlight, and then as if she noticed where she was. She chirped and looked at Paul, chirping again.
“Yes, this is your home, Bird,” he said, opening the door of the cage. “Come on out.”
The bird looked at Paul and hopped out of the cage onto the branch. She shook herself and hopped along it, and then began fluttering her wings, chirping. Suddenly she took off into the air and flew around chirping loudly. As she reached the next tree she burst into song. Paul was watching in excitement and he clapped and shouted out. “Yes, Bird, you’re home. Oh, you can sing all you want now!”
Suddenly Paul realized there was an echo. And then he saw a second bird fly out of the tree! The two golden birds circled around each other and disappeared into the branches. Paul couldn’t believe it. His bird had a friend!
Then he heard the familiar rustling and chirping that signaled her arrival. Instead of just his bird, both birds appeared and landed on the branch at a little distance from him. One approached him chirping. “Bird, is that you?” Paul asked. “And this is your friend? I’m so happy for both of you. You can stay here together and sing to each other.” He realized the cage was still there and he quickly closed its door and put the cover back on. “No more cage for you!” he said.
His bird cocked her head and looked at him. She gave a loud chirp and burst into song. Paul smiled happily. And then the other bird joined in! They finished their duet and Paul softly clapped his hands, not wanting to scare them. His bird chirped and Paul nodded in response, and then the two birds flew off together. As he climbed back down from the tree Paul heard them singing together. “Goodbye beautiful golden songbird; I did the right thing bringing you back.”
As he waited for the bus to take him back to the city he wondered if he should bother bringing the birdcage. There didn’t seem to be anywhere to leave it, so he just put it on the seat beside him when he got on the bus. A couple of villages later more people got on and he heard a voice asking if they could sit in the seat next to him. “Oh yes, I’ll just move this,” he said picking up the birdcage.
“Is there something in that?” the voice asked. Paul turned to answer and saw a young girl about his age had sat down beside him. “Is there a bird in it?” she asked.
“Um, no. There was a bird, but I had to let her go.” Paul managed to respond. He saw the girl’s quizzical expression and continued, “I took her from the forest to our new home in the city, but she didn’t like being stuck in the cage so I brought her back. She’s happy now.”
“But you’re a bit sad?” the girl said.
“Well, yes, I guess so. I’ll be okay though. I expect I’ll make new friends when school starts.”
“Oh, are you going to the Christian High School? That’s where I go.”
“Yes, I think that’s what it’s called.” Paul looked at her. “Is it really like a church? I mean, my family doesn’t go to church.”
“Oh, no,” she laughed. “I think it’s just called that because some missionaries started it long ago. We don’t have to go to Bible classes or anything! You’ll be fine.” She was smiling and Paul smiled back. “I’m Anna, by the way,” she said.
“Paul,” he responded.
“Well, Paul, it’s nice to meet you. If you just moved to the city and don’t know anyone you should come over to my house on Saturday. We’re having a barbecue before school starts. There will be a bunch of kids there. Your parents can come too, if they like.”
“Oh, that sounds great!” Paul was surprised. “My mother was talking about having a house warming party but we don’t know a lot of people, just some from my father’s work. Maybe she’d like to come and we make some new friends. Thanks.”
“Alright then.” Anna took a pen and piece of paper out of her pocket and started writing. “Here’s my address, and phone number, and my parents’ names. I hope you can all come. My parents would be happy to meet your parents I’m sure.”
Paul took the paper and nodded. They continued to chat as the bus took them back to the city. At least Anna kept talking, her voice rising and falling almost like a song. Paul wasn’t really paying attention to the conversation. He was fascinated by the way Anna’s long hair was shining in the sun; it looked almost like gold. She smiled at him, seeing how he was looking at her hair. “I know, my hair looks golden in the sun. My mother calls me her beautiful golden girl.” Then it was her stop and she got up to leave. “Hope to see you on Saturday, Paul,” and she was gone.
Paul looked out the window and watched her walk away, her golden hair blowing slightly in the breeze. She turned and waved, and he waved back, smiling happily.
Copyright © Jennifer P. Tanabe, 2015