This Bird Has Flown

Holding tight to the shabby paw of the ragged bear, she hovers on the outer fringe of the playground. With eyes grey and mournful as a winter sky threatening a heavy fall of snow, she watches the other children. They laugh as the merry-go-round spins uncontrollably and shove each other in their mad scramble for the newly-vacated swing.

She hopes they see her lingering beyond the fun...hopes that this time they will be kind. But she hopes in vain.

Pointing and sneering, they yell, "Freak," and screech "Dummy!"

She runs, her thin legs pumping as fast as they are able. "I'm not a dummy," she tells the bear. "I can talk. There's plenty I could tell them...if I wanted!"

But she doesn't want. She's afraid to want.

In her bedroom, she sits cross-legged on the floor as it grows dark outside. The bear is frightened. She hugs him close and comforts him with gentle words. She wipes away his tears with a dirty handkerchief and tells him that everything is going to be alright.

At the creak of the broken stair, she scrambles into the corner and crouches low against the baseboard. The bear, clutched tightly in her bruised arms, stares with glassy-eyed horror as the door slowly opens.

When it is over, she crawls toward the bed and pulls herself onto the bare mattress, covering herself with a faded baby blanket which used to be trimmed with soft, satin ribbon and sported pale pink bunnies and bright yellow daisies...once upon a time.

Fitfully, she falls asleep, whimpering as her dreams are merely vivid nightmare reflections of her young life.

As the sun peeks over the windowsill and creeps into the dark shadows of the small room, the bear continues to maintain his vigil, but there is no longer any reason to fear.

Fluttering lightly above the patched and moth-eaten rug lying on the floor is the soft, white, downy feather of a guardian angel's wing.

This tiny bird has flown.

Wednesday's Child

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