This small bird
Once, there was a bird–small, not quite feathered, lost.
This bird was savaged, almost ripped in two.
It fluttered against walls, bins, drainpipes, and into oily puddles, searching for a place of safety. Unable to flee, to escape into the blue, it sought refuge amongst the litter and the discarded, things of neither value nor use, things it now felt kinship with.
Terrified by the sharp lash of brutal rage that had filled its world, it was unable to even long for better times, the fires that would have provided warmth and light guttered out, dead. Had there ever been a nest or warm wing to shelter under? The small bird remembered only the winter’s chill, never any respite.
Eventually, tired and alone, the small bird found a place to sleep. It was a dark place, an abandoned shell.
She, because she was becoming such, buried herself in a corner, inviting sleep to come and hide her from the lash. Others called this place sanctuary too, Odd Birds finding comfort in their bottles and powders. She neither added nor subtracted from their lives, so they tolerated her tiny frame in their darkness.
And so it stayed, until the darkest part of the deepest night, when the monsters came. They had heard of a small bird nesting in the derelict house, and they hungered for her.
“Stay quiet, little one,” said a voice in the yawning void that was more than night, “stay small.”
She pushed further into the corner, back against the rotting walls and their meagre protection. The old house shook and creaked in response, and the small bird wished it would collapse upon them all.
But sometimes, even those who believe they have nothing have something, and she discovered so when the Odd Birds stood between the monsters and her little corner. In that dark, a gloom made deeper by the light that should have been, there came the sounds of flesh on flesh, of wood on bone, and the slow squeeze of breath from lungs.
Eventually, the monsters grew bored, frustrated. Thousands of small birds were easier pickings, requiring less effort for greater reward. And so they took the bottles, the powders and what money those who slept here could beg, and whooped off into the night, back to Leicester Square.
The Odd Birds rose from where they fell and assessed their wounds—nothing serious—before retrieving their hidden supplies of bottles and powders.
“They will return for you, little one,” said Corky, the tallest Odd Bird.
I wept as the creeping daylight restored my identity, and nodded. It was time to go.
Roy, the Budgie Man, put his hand on mine. “We know of somewhere safe for you to go. This here is not your world.”
On the other side of London, the small bird, me, knocked on a brown door. Recently painted, the number beside shone proudly. Number 8.
The door opened, and a clean-shaven, older man studied me. I wondered why he felt the need to. Was I so foul that people needed to peer through the filth to see the person beneath? A person worth acknowledging?
Suddenly, the door was wrenched further open, and a younger man with soft brown eyes looked at me. A moment later, he was leaping over the threshold to sweep me into his arms.
“Oh, hen,” he said in a soft Ayrshire accent, “Come in at once.”
That is how I found my sheltering wing. In the home of John and Rabbie, two people with so much love that they had enough left to spare for me.
I was bathed, dressed, and fed, and though I was as unfamiliar to them as could be, they tenderly cared for me, nonetheless. They loved me like they might their own child.
In their care my wounds of mind, as well as body, were given time to heal.
I owe them my life, these people, who welcomed a stranger in, and helped them find their feet.
Eventually, a long time hence, the small bird grew some feathers, left the nest, and made her own way through the perils of life.
But no matter the time that has passed, or the miles seperating me from then, I will never forget the Odd Birds who protected me, nor the beautiful couple who healed me.
Compassion can be shown to anyone, even the most broken of small birds, and by anyone, even those who have seen so little of it.
In the end, love is love.
(Written by the small bird)