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Little Bird

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Tap tap tap.

They’re much too light for that, much too bare, Little Bird’s feet don’t make much noise. They live somewhere with no sky, but they’ve seen it once or twice before; there’s a ledge they know, a ledge above the sea, far far far above the sea, where the scum doesn’t reach high enough to cling, cut out of a cliff. 

Tap tap tap.

They’re much too accustomed to the dark for that, much too used to slinking around, Little Bird’s eyes hurt the first time. So they didn’t stay, or even look down. They live somewhere the shadows tug at their clothes like smaller children, and the ghosts of their fingers play with Little Bird’s short hair. You told them it’s wind passing through, but they can hardly believe in it.

Tap tap tap.

They were much too young for that, much too small, Little Bird didn’t get to look at all. You can only find the ledge if you walk through a tiny dark tunnel, Little Bird remembers. It’s just big enough for an adult to crawl through, so Little Bird could take you, even if they don’t need to crawl yet, since they’re still short. They do need to get on their hands and knees in places, but that’s expected, since you’re both such lowly beings in the first place. 

Tap tap—

Little Bird grows insistent, impossible to distract. They stop with their arms crossed. They want to see the sky, but for some unholy reason, they do not want to see the sky alone. Little Bird tugs on your arm, and you let them.

Tap.

Step.

They are much too young, much too small, so you crawl on your knees like the little tyrant asks you to, and the wind, that unreal ghost, slaps you in the face with the taste of tears. Not your own, though your eyes water; the sea crashes under you, impossibly vast, impossibly blue, perhaps trying to shred you both apart, and the scum can reach after all, leaving salt on your tongue and your cheeks and your mess of hair.

If the sea that claws relentlessly at the white stone makes you feel small, then the sky proves your insignificance. Of its beautiful immensity, mountains are the only usurpers, trying to pretend it doesn’t extend all around you. You look away, crushed by its weight and brightness, and see colors that don’t exist explode only for your dazzled eyes.

“Think I could kiss the sky?” Little Bird asks, and you look, and they’re taken in as if in a trance, serious like only kids can be. You haven’t heard their voice in a very long time, and you don’t know that you won’t hear it again, because Little Bird wants to fly, and won’t take no for an answer.

Tap tap—

They were much too young for that, much too small, Little Bird didn’t think to look at all. 

tap—

They have their nose up; Little Bird is much more taken by a limitless vastness they’ve never considered before than the very real weight of the ocean at their feet. They don’t perceive the rotten stink of the scum that rises from it. You, however, are neither so young, nor so small, and you look down from the ledge, and you remember the small tunnel is well traveled, and bile rises in your throat.

A scraping sound, perhaps for air.

Trembling arms are thrown around Little Bird’s body, dragging them backwards until the sky is a memory. They do not protest, though they didn’t get to feel the wind take hold of their feathers. They never do protest.

A trembling sigh

Little Bird knows of blue only these brief impressions. Little Bird is much too curious, much too open, staring at the world like it’ll fit between their eyelids.You want to believe you cannot let them see more horrors, you’ve never wanted them to see, even though you know it’s twelve years too late and maybe you should become a murderer at seventeen.

A thoughtful hum, pensive notes.

What will spare them the pain of seeing their own wings clipped? You are helpless, but in Little Bird’s eyes there is infinite curiosity. You are helpless, but in Little Bird’s eyes there is conviction. You are helpless, but in Little Bird’s eyes there is persistence. You are helpless, but in Little Bird’s eyes there is something that they strive to break, and Little Bird is much too young, much too small, much too light, much too bare for that.

A haggard look that makes no noise, and a small, small hand on your cheek, in your hair, a kiss on your forehead because that’s how you comfort them at night.

You are helpless, but in Little Bird’s eyes there is the world, and it scares you, because the world is blue, and you know, intimately, that it must be broken.