Gilded

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 04, 2017

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Submitted: January 04, 2017

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Gilded.

 

You brought it to me and presented it to me as if it was a gift. But I knew better. There was nothing generous in this gesture. It was a reminder, one that would be there constantly, of my place in your world.

 

Even though you had draped it in luxurious cloth I could tell what it was as you thrust it towards me, demanding that I take it from you. Did you notice how my hands shook? I’m sure you did, no doubt getting some satisfaction from the response you had caused. I put it gently on to the table but did not remove the cover. You were not going to leave it at that though, were you. You wanted to witness the look on my face but I had no plans of making it easy.

 

Come on now, Charlotte. Don’t you want to see you gift!”

 

Why do you even ask? It is not as if you are going to give me any choice in the matter. You are just getting a bit more self-satisfaction by this little display of your power over me. I will my hand to be steady as I stretch my arm out towards the fabric, take it in my hand and pull it slowly and gently towards me.

 

Even though I am expecting it, the frantic fluttering of the caged bird makes me draw sharply back with a horrified gasp. It is a small bird, delicate. I cannot say what sort as I do not know, but I am sure it is one that should not be kept captive.

 

A friend for you, Charlotte. A bit of company to stop you feeling so lonely.”

 

That smug look of yours, so sure that you have put me in my place. How I would just love to smack that superior smirk away! But I won’t. You know I will not lift a finger towards you; I am too well aware of what the consequences would be. I’ll bite back the words that want to come pouring out and I will meekly play my part.

 

Thank you, George. It is beautiful.”

 

And it is beautiful in a tragic way! But it is also an epitome of cruelty, the way it frantically flutters and beats itself against those golden bars. I will not let the tears that are threatening fall from my eyes but will hold them back at least until you have gone.

 

You fix your cold gaze on to the bird and smirk. “It will settle down soon......Once it learns to accept its place.” And you lift your eyes to stare into mine until I manage to look away. Oh, your message is so very clear! “I’ll leave you now so that you can become more acquainted. I’m sure you will become very good friends.”

 

As soon as you leave I gently cover the cage again and almost instantly the frantic beating against the bars ceases. I will leave the bird in darkness for a while, so she can calm herself while I think what I can do. I can hardly bear to think of her being held captive.

 

Later, when I remove the cover just partially, she flutters for a few moments then settles back on her perch. She looks around herself, looks at me. I can see the misery that she is feeling. I can see her tiny body trembling with fear.

 

On the second day she starts to sing, but it is not the song that a bird like her should be producing but a mournful one; a song of loss, a song of sadness and not a song of joy. I can’t stand it! I have to find a way to set her free.

 

As I fumble with the catch on the birdcage she goes back to her frantic fluttering. Does she know what I am trying to do? When the door is open she flies straight out and heads directly towards the window. Her small body bangs against the glass, over and over again.

I’ll let her out, that’s what I tell myself but I cannot get the window to open. Of course! They are locked. This entire room is nothing more than an over-sized birdcage and I am the broken and imprisoned bird that is kept inside it.

 

Somebody must have seen us at the window from outside, or perhaps you just heard; either way you open the door and enter, quickly pulling the door closed behind you. You are angry but are struggling to keep yourself from showing it. You do not expect to see any initiative from me, any form of disobedience.

 

Get it back into the cage, Charlotte, or I will do it myself. And you know that sometimes my hands forget to be gentle.”

 

A not so subtle warning, then; it almost sounds like a threat. Not towards me, of course, but you know I would not want to witness the poor bird suffering. I creep, I grab, and eventually manage to catch the small panic-stricken bird in my hands. I stroke her head gently, trying to offer some comfort, some reassurance to her, as I place her back inside that gilded place of confinement and slip the catch back onto the door.

 

Silently you throw the cover back over it and pick it up. You walk with it towards the door, not saying a word to me or even seeming to register my presence in any way. Have I lost my companion for good? If it meant that the bird would be set free I would be happy to do without her company. But you don’t work like that, do you! If she does not return to me it will be because you have taken her life just to spite me.

 

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I am aware of is you re-entering my room.

I am at least partly relieved to see that you are carrying the birdcage before you. You pull the cover away roughly, not gently as I would have done, and I see the bird. I am shocked but I should not be. I will not show it; you will not get that satisfaction from me.

 

That poor bird has had its wings clipped! You would not have done it yourself but there are plenty who would do anything you asked. I would rather have spent the rest of my life entirely alone than to see this, to be a part of such shameless barbarism.

 

A pretty bird that should be free to swoop, to dive, to sing her song, has been brutally sentenced by you to never, ever fly again. And you have made me an accomplice to it.

 

I turn away from you and from the cage. I will not look while you remain in the room. But once you are gone I will take her from her cage. I will stroke her feathers and show her gentleness. I will listen to her sad song for she will be singing it for both of us.


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