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  • Writer's pictureSam Palmer

Silent Songbird

I remember the first time I saw you. Sitting quietly in your golden cage in the window. The sheer curtain would sometimes blow back, allowing me a glimpse of your blue feathers. Every day, there you were. A song bird who appeared to had lost their will to sing. The first time that thought occurred to me, I cried.

Every day I walked past the building with the blue bird in the window of the second story. Sitting quietly in it's prison, watching the world pass it by. I never saw your owners though I knew at the very least they must be feeding you since you were still alive. I would sit on the bench across the street, looking up at you and trying hard to picture the people you belonged to. They must have been so excited to get you, picking you out and giving you a name. Remembering to pick up bird seed every week, and clean out your cage for you. I knew to some degree you must be loved, but I couldn't seem to wrap my head around it. To me you were a lonely blue bird with no one in the whole world.

I suppose that pitiful thought was what made me do what I did.

By the middle of spring I found myself thinking about you, well after I was home and in my bed. I tossed and turned thinking of how your life could have been if you hadn't been born into animal slavery. That's what it was right? I convinced myself. If it were up to you, and your parents before you, and their parents before them, you all would have been out doing what birds do. Singing, eating, building nests, finding love and raising babies. Not cooped up alone, surrounded by an entirely different species who doesn't understand you, who doesn't have the same needs and desires as you. They just like to look at you, and listen to you when you used to sing. You were home decor with a pulse now and I couldn't stand it anymore.

I knew it was risky, I knew the chances of getting caught were pretty high. But I couldn't let one more day go by with your short life being wasted. I wanted to see you fly. No. I needed to see you fly. To sing. Be a bird again. I prayed that you would remember how as I scaled the side of the building leading up to your window. My fingers gripped the brick tightly, the toe of my shoe holding my weight up while I peered over the ledge. The window was slightly open since it was a warm night, and the breeze blew back the sheer curtains. Your cage had a white sheet over it, the edges moved gently with the wind while my heart beat quickened. I was about to change your life, liberate you.

I reached out one shaky hand and gripped the edge of the sheet, pulling it back. It fell into a pile onto the floor and there you were. Your black eyes met mine, and I became weightless. My fingers were no longer aching, my muscles stopped screaming, and my heart calmed. In that moment, I knew I was doing the right thing. You were so still while my hand reached out to the latch of your cage. I had half expected you to be afraid, retreat away from me, squawk. But you watched patiently and silently as the metal door opened. Your head tilted back at me, I could almost hear you thanking me before you opened your wings and flew out and over my head. Into the night you went.

My eyes began to well as I tilted my head back to try to catch a glimpse of your blue feathers against the black night. But you were gone. It was fine, I told myself. This was what I'd wanted. For you. You were free now, in a way, we both were. The tear finally came with the smile while I continued gripping the ledge. I wondered if I'd ever see you again.


Startled, I turned quickly, looking through the window to see a man in yellow striped pajamas running towards me. My heart flipped just as my foot slipped from the small edge of the brick it had been balancing on sending me falling backwards.

I don't remember landing on the ground, though I know I must have. I don't remember much after that at all, really. Flashes of light. Muffled voices. Beeping. Crying. I remember becoming aware of the situation when I heard my mom crying.

"It's been six months, doctor. Six months. Is there any hope?"

He hadn't had an answer for her then, and he still doesn't. So here I sit, surrounded by people who can't understand me. Trapped in my cage, the world passing me by. I spend most of my time dreaming I'm a blue bird singing loudly and soaring in the sky. That could be me, I think. If only someone will set me free.

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