An Image Of Perfection

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 30, 2018

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Submitted: January 30, 2018

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An Image Of Perfection

Every day, about an hour after sunrise, I like to walk the perimeter of the field. It’s not my field, or rather I don’t own it; I rent it from a neighbouring farm along with a small stable where I keep my two donkeys and a pony.

The three of them had been dumped and left to fend for themselves. When the grass stopped growing and the cold took hold, well, they were starving. I couldn’t do it, just leave them there, so I made an arrangement with the farmer and took over the field.

Coming up for two years now, and I’ve not missed a day. Sometimes I find little repairs that need doing. If I do them quick enough I can manage a patch-up job easily enough. And should I find a something bigger there’s always help available if I ask.

Copper is the pony. If you saw her you’d know how she got her name, her coat is just that color. Then there is Ben and Jerry, the donkeys, named after my favourite brand of ice cream. They all seem the best of friends, stop each other getting lonely. And they are all company for me too.

I’m not old, but sometimes I feel it, twenty-nine and all alone. But I like the quiet life, the solitude, and although sometimes I’ll find myself longing for a bit of human company, mostly I’m reasonably happy. And I’ve got Scamp, my dog. She goes with me everywhere.

I open the gate into the field, unclip Scamp’s leash, and let her run free. Securing the gate behind, I take a quick glance around the field. Usually Copper, Ben and Jerry are waiting nearby but not today. I can just about make them out way at the top of the field, in amongst the trees that grow there. Strange, but not unheard of.

Scamp is already racing ahead of me, her long legs stretching, giving her speed. She races away, then heads back, over and over again. This has to be one of her favourite times of day. The field slopes upward so it is hard work walking up there. As I get closer to the top I can see something white spread out in one of the tree’s branches. Plastic, no doubt. At least up in the tree the donkeys won’t have felt a desire to munch on it.

I’ll have to climb up and remove it, or drag it down, otherwise any wind and it will tear free. I have to try to avoid vet bills as much as I possibly can. It’s lucky I’m not one for having much of a social life or I’d never be able to afford all the upkeep.

As I get closer it becomes clear that whatever is in the trees is not a sheet of plastic. Wings, large and white have got snagged up on the spindly, tangled twigs and branches. A swan maybe? They can be vicious when trapped so I’ll need to keep my wits about me, but I’ll free it.

Every time I come out in the fields I put in my pocket a good strong pair of clippers. You never know when you’re going to need them and these are sharp enough to cut through wire as well as vegetation. I’ll climb up a bit, clip away from a distance and work my way slowly nearer. That way the bird should hopefully get free  before I’m in its reach.

It’s only when I reach the tree itself that I can see this is no swan. Big white wings but they are not attached to the body of a bird, but that of a girl, a woman. I shake my head. Has my solitude brought me to madness, where I’m seeing angels instead of birds?

She’s still there, her sad eyes looking warily at me. She’s scared of me! Trapped and totally at my mercy, but there is nothing threatening about me. I start talking softly, not really making any sense but speaking anything that comes into my head. I doubt she can understand anyway, but she’ll respond to the tone of my voice.... I hope.

And I can see it is working. She has started to relax, to trust me, but even so I can see her tense up once more as I begin to climb. ‘Keep it slow and steady,’ I tell myself; and I take my time, snipping a branch here, a twig there. I’m going to have to work on freeing one wing at a time, and to do that she is going to have to stay calm.

I look into her eyes as much as I can. There is something about them, deep dark pools of an almost golden brown. She is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. One last snip and the wing on her right is free. I’m going to have to climb down, then ascend the other side. I can’t see any way for me to manoeuvre myself around without touching back to ground.

There is a hint of panic in her eyes now. Does she think I’m going to leave her there? Half free and hanging by one wing. It must be painful, Like being held up by one arm. I’ll try to be quick but my hurried movements seem to cause her to struggle. Again, I rely on a soft voice and nonsense words and work swiftly but surely.

Almost free, she pulls at her wing, and I can see exactly where it is still stuck. I’m going to have to lean in close, make physical contact. There’s no other way that I can reach that final obstructing branch.

I never thought of angels hissing, but this one does as my arm makes contact with her wing. Even through my jacket I can feel an iciness, cold enough almost to freeze. I want to pull away but I can’t, I have to finish what I set out to do. I stretch up as far as I possibly can....and clip.

She’s away, instantly up in to the sky. I watch her go higher and higher from my branch in the tree and then she simply isn’t there any longer. She’s vanished. Was it simply wishful thinking, a fantasy brought to life?

I climb back down and Copper nuzzles me. Ben and Jerry nudge at my pockets, hopeful for a carrot. On the ground there is one large white feather. I pick it up, study it; it could be from a swan, but equally it could be from an angel. Whatever, it is coming home with me.

Whistling for Scamp, we set off back down the field, five of us together. Already, I’m thinking I imagined her face, but true or not, I realise that I will never find someone so beautiful again. I will spend the rest of my life alone except for my animal companions.


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