The bird landed on the window ledge and began tapping with its beak against the glass. From inside the room I could hear but couldn’t see it. I moved closer and was strangely unperturbed by the fact that it was invisible. I was surprised, yes, but it was fleeting at best and I was much more concerned about what kind of bird it might be. Judging by the sound of the flapping of its wings and the squawking it was big. Probably one of the fearsome looking crows that scavenge alongside the dual-carriageway.
It was obviously in distress and I was convinced that what I was hearing were its death throes. I didn’t need to see it; I could quite easily picture it in my head – bloody and broken and writhing in agony. And I wondered if at some point during the course of its dying it would reappear and if I had been chosen in order to witness this.
I hoped I was wrong. I didn’t want to have to deal with the remains. A dead thing out there on the patio, a bloody mess of feathers. I wasn’t even sure that I could cope. But the bird was still alive and I couldn’t abandon it. Very, very carefully I opened the window, just a little, and determined I stood and I listened.
Amidst the flapping and the beating, the bird’s fractured cawing had a strange sort of rhythm, a cadence that almost resembled speech. And I realised then that it was in fact talking. It struck me also that this was the cause of its pain, of its suffering. That the effort for it to do so was so great and that every word it managed to form was taking its toll. And if the bird was dying, and I still believed it was, then it was because of the words.
I wondered how long it would take and how many more words the bird could manage to make. I abandoned it, just for a moment, searching for pen and notepad and returning I started to write, to transcribe.
The bird was flailing violently, beating its head and beak against the glass and contorting itself and out of each twisted shriek another word emerged.
I could have ended it, I should have put the bird out of its misery. I could so easily have fetched a towel, a heavy bath towel and smothered it. But I didn’t, I wanted so badly to know, to hear, what it had to say.

Sign of the Times-1110902

Image by Christine Renney

23 thoughts on “THE GIFT

  1. I love the Kafkaesque tone of this story, Mark: dark and bleak not for its own sake, but because it reflects the human condition. It hints at a realisation of one’s awareness of oneself, and,as such, is a great piece of metaphorical prose. Well written!

  2. Beautiful writing- strikes me that this could have been the bird’s living wake- so much attention and reverence to the experience. Most folk would have walked away or barely glanced. Love the photograph- as if the bird was pecking on death’s door.

    1. I jotted down the idea for this a while ago but it didn’t quite work out as I had intended, when I started writing I became so caught up in the birds death dance and this became the dominating factor. Thanks Diahann for a much appreciated comment . Regards Mark.

    1. Thank you Suzy I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this. I have been enjoying your work as well. Your piece ‘The Secret’ is so evocative it brought back my own childhood memories of those old seaside towns that I still love to visit.

  3. Hello Mark! 🙂 I was wondering if you’d be interested in allowing me to publish this thoughtful story in the January issue of a literary magazine of mine? I publish a new issue every two months, and it’s regularly gaining new readers and followers by email as well as WordPress followers. There are no printed copies or any money involved for myself or the writers, and it’s free to read. The aim is to help promote writers on websites and blogs from all over the internet.

    Copyright remains with the writer, I include a link back to the originally published work and also any other social media links you’d like me to include (please let me know which ones – if you have any).

    If you would be interested in allowing me to publish this story please check out the magazine and let me know. But if you’d rather not, don’t hesitate to say no, I won’t mind.
    Suzy 🙂

    1. Hello Suzy – just back from a week away and only now seeing this invitation from you. I would be delighted for you to include this in your next issue and I thank you for the support you have given in making this offer. Kind regards Mark

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