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  • Shivali Yadav

LITTLE RED BIRD





The sunlight plays mischievously over her eyes, happiness flickering from under her heavy eyelids. My gaze focuses on the bundle of joy lying protected in her mother’s arms, our beautiful baby, who’s inhaling her first breaths.

She grows up and soon walks into my embrace for the first time. My heart soars with joy, determined to protect and guide her every step.

She mumbles her first words, a smile playing on her lips, the moonlight casting her own comforting glow over us. Her small, fragile hands wipe away the joyful tears that form in my eyes, her smile giving way to concern. I swear to never expose my tears again, to never allow my grief to be a cause for hers.

She stumbles, her clumsy hands grasping at a vase to break her fall. The vase falls, shattering into a thousand pieces, and I rush to her. My voice rises, as worry overwhelms me, and tears well up in her eyes. Her lip trembles, and my heart breaks. I promise never to raise my voice at her again.

The ringtone echoes in the room as I gently shift her to grab my phone. In that moment of distraction, she slips off the bed, a cry of pain and surprise tore from her throat. I rush to pick her up and caress her, swearing to never take my eyes off her again.

The sun is cruelly bright, the light dancing around the leaves, as she runs, her laugh echoing through space, her happiness wrapping me in a warm cocoon. She is giddy as she calls out to me, “Daddy, look I can fly!” My heart leaps with exultation, infected by her contagious cheerfulness. I hear a rustle to my side, and I turn, my eyes tracking a small bird as it is lifted by its wings. I turn back, and my heart falters, as my beloved runs with delight onto the road, her wings spread wide, ready to reach the stars.

Her gaze is fixated on the seemingly endless sky, and she doesn’t see the car approach. In the end, she does fly, her lithe body thrown into the air, held aloft by heaven’s wind.

I did not guide her step. Tears flow without rest, grief breaking my body, but she is not there to wipe them away. I scream, hoping that my voice will reach whatever godly power is willing to hear, begging for my baby to come back. I take my eyes away from her, my fragile, human heart unable to bear the sight of her small body, so full of life and love, on the ground, her wings still spread. In the end, I broke every promise I ever made to her, and these unfulfilled promises are the needles that prick me a thousand times over even after my child has flown away from her nest, and left me behind forever.


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