The Sparrow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An appreciation for life's beauty.

Submitted: March 26, 2007

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Submitted: March 26, 2007



Hello. My name is John Leroy. A strange, life-changing thing happened to me one summer's eve when I had left the farm house where I earn my living to return home. As long as I live I will never forget it. It all started like this, really. I had gone from the old house in Drudsbur where me and my momma live, to the Basker farmhouse about four and a half miles the way the crow flies outta town. I've been employed by Mr. Henry Basker, I call 'im Boss, for 3 months now out of account that my momma has gotten real sick. I guess he took pity on me when I came walking down the road, with a sad, ailin' look in my eyes, my bare heels kickin up dirt like a man posessed. I had asked him if he had needed an extra hand around the stable yards and harvesting the cornfields this comin autumn. I told him about my unfortunate circumstances, and he, god bless him said he could always use another hand. When I told him about my poor momma he sealed the deal there and then.

Anyway, as usual and like every morning I had gone into the stables with two other farmhands to muck the stalls and lay down fresh bedding for Boss's prize runners. Something was different this morning, a feeling in the air that makes a man's stomach seem to cling to his bowels, and his heart to jump up to his throat. The sky that morning was so calm. Not calm-like like a man sittin' on his porch with his dog, smoking a fine cigar. But calm, real calm like in those adventurin books or the twenty-five cent picture shows about pirates on the high seas. The way the giant pictures flicker and those guys move about, cuttin throats and kidnappin lost damsels and such. The sky was real stunning, that morning as I stood in awe of it's magnificence. By then I was shook out of my gaze by another farmhand, irritated with me because I'd been starin into the blue for five minutes, unaware that I hadn't done my task right and proper. I shrugged in protest and did my keep, still dazed by what I had seen. Atsix o'clock in the afternoon I had taken a quick break, shuffling fresh bedding for a new mother and her calf, and leaned against the shoddy, grey wooden fence overlooking a overgrown field. The ground under me littered with cigarette stubs, I shuffled uncomfortably and withdrew a pack of cigarettes, carefully studying the cartoon cowpoke on the package. I placed one in my mouth, and struck a match, raising the flame to my mouth and my eyes led astray. I stopped, and saw a young man, a boy who I did not know standing out in the field surrounded by two other men who I had recognized. The sulpher on my match had disappeared and I jumped, cursed in suprise and shock as the flame had creeped down the matchstick, burning my fingers. I cursed again and stuffed the matches and cigarettes into my pockets, and started walking towards the men in the field.

Before I had reached them I had heard the two men laughing and jeering, and when i had gotten closer I had realized that it was directed at the young boy. He wasn't older than 18, a sad, real sad look on his face. I couldn't say it was one of self-pity, or loathing for his two bullys, but one of a sullen, odd nature. I had an overhwhelming urge to break in and pat him on the back, shake his hand, say "Hey fella, things are gonna be okay." Somehow, I just couldn't. I didn't believe myself, I couldn't. It was as if the drifting eyes of this young man were staring into time itself. For the first time in my life, I felt scared, real scared. I didn't understand. I felt like, I could never understand. I shook my head and tried to block the feeling from myself. His eyes seemed locked on the ground, he didn't respond to the men's laughter and taunts. I came upon them, and gazed upon what had so strongly caught the boy's attention. The men noticed me, one of them, a short stocky man named Jim looked at me with a curled grin and said, "Ahaha, Jonny boy, you've got to see this. Ever see somethin so pathetic? This boy's cryin' over a wittle, dead, birdie. A dead birdie! I know this boy's pa, he wants 'im to play for the state one day, Ahahaha, he's sure in for a suprise." The boy squinted at mention of his father, hurt and looked up at Jim, a bitter, hateful look in the corner of his misty eyes. Jim sneered and furrowed his brow, "You little punk-", he exclaimed as he raised his fist, and struck the boy, sending him to the ground. The other man jeered, and laughed as he heard a sharp ring, and turned to walk away. The hall bell was sounding, time for farmhands to get back to work. Jim turned and before he left, spat on the boy, laying sprawled, motionless on the grass. When the men had disappeared from sight I knelt beside him, offered him a hand up. He hesitated, but took it and he stood, averting my gaze his eyes returned to what I had not yet seen on the green dancing grass. A dead sparrow. Unusually small in size, it couldn't have been an adult yet. Didn't even have it's plumage, it's wings premature, tucked in beside it's breast. I saw it, looked into it's listless eyes and it swallowed me. The sparrow was like a mirror, and I saw myself and everyone else and what had become of us. Each person in this mirror like a grain of sand, or a pretty little daisy like the one's my sweetheart likes to wear in her long brown hair in church. It seems all so imperfect, this reflection. Something inside me swelled, I saw inside, through the bird into something much deeper. I was staring back at something I could not, and never comprehend. But I understood, I understood now. Raising my head, I looked at the boy, I heard him sob, weep as if mourning for his own child. Mourning for this little sparrow, this dead bird surrounded by all which does not comprehend it, it's majesty, it's dreams, it's significance. I placed a hand on his shoulder and he startled, looking at me and wiped the stream of tears from his face. I opened my mouth to speak but he turned, and ran towards the fence away from me. I was late now. The sun was beginning to set across the horizon.

I had turned in my work clothes in the stables and said my goodbyes for the day to Mr. Basker, gave my best regards to Mrs. Basker and collected my earnings for the day from Mr. Sawyer, Boss's financial manager. I had made extra keep that day because Lawerence, another farmhand had turned up ill that day with the fever, so I had taken his place tending crops. My back ached and my feet were sore but I couldn't wait to get home where I would have hot food waiting for me. I looked up at the sky, once earlier stunning, now still and motionless. The sun had set leaving only a golden-purple haze, haunting throughout the horizon. The trees scattering the cascade of dimming light still left from the day past, I looked down the road ahead, and shivered, a chill coming over me. I felt light headed, care-free. An overwhelming joy ran through my being, I practically ran down the road, dust clouds trailing my aching heels once again. I felt reborn. I slowed to a walk and knelt over, catching my breath. The sun had left the horizon, the dark shrouded the now new night sky, I breathed in deep, the cold air in my lungs and I continued walking. I heard a roar coming from behind me, a great noise of shots and motor. One of the farmhands owned a motorcar. A automobile, I remember it belonged to Jim. The morning he drove it into the lot of the Basker farmyard everyone had gathered around, save Mr. Basker, and was very impressed. I remembered even I had marvelled at it. It roared past me and I shut my eyes, say any dust should get in my eyes, and it kicked back smoke and soot. A foul taste in my mouth I coughed and cleared my eyes and nostrils, a little sore now from exhaust. I watched the automobile roar and speed around the corner ahead and I returned my gaze to the night sky, stars now emerging from the dark fold of clouds. I walked for what seemed like minutes, yet seconds and was torn from my stars by a horribly loud roar and crash, louder than an explosion, the sounds of metal scraping. The sounds of screams followed. My mouth dropping open, my eyes widened as I ran up the road as fast as I could. My mind raced and my heart almost beat out of my chest as I rounded the corner, my heart stopped as I saw what was in front of me. Turning the corner Jim, driving his automobile was going to fast to see past the corner, and had hit someone, a man,  walking alongside the road. The motorcar had hit the man and crashed into a large oak tree with a thundering crash at the edge of the road. I stood there, staring in horror at the bloodied, mangled body laying sprawled, motionless. Jim stumbled out of the car, and fell on his knees. Bringing his eyes up to the body, he choked. He saw me and he cried out, his hands clutching his chest in some helpless attempt, trying to understand. Trying to comprehend. He stood up and I walked towards the body, my heart pounding. I leaned down and, in horror, turned the body over, I looked at his face and my blood ran cold, my heart stopped.
It was the boy. Bloody, broken, his hair cascaded across his forehead and face, his eyes drifting, listless. A dead boy. Jim stumbled to the body and saw his face. He cried out, screamed and bit his shirt sleeve in pain. He stood over him, and began to weep, tears streaming from his eyes down his rough face. He cried, he mourned. Mourning, as if he'd hit his own child and his tears fell from his cheeks, onto the brow of the young man. We stood there and watched him, this dead boy. We looked into his listless eyes and he swallowed us, and just like the sparrow in the grass field I saw the imperfection in Life's seams. The way we are, what we have become. Life isn't this simple, but it is in everything that makes it this way. That makes us this way. In the midnight moon we stood and mourned for the boy, in the mirrors reflection we are to realize our own significance, such perfection through our own imperfections. Our own beauty, like the way the twenty-cent moving pictures move. I advise you look into the mirrors of life. I understand now, I didn't before, but I understand.

© Copyright 2018 Alekzandr Stalingrad. All rights reserved.

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