A particularly trite and saccharine short story

Winter was soon upon the country and the mass migration had begun. The sky was full of hopeful travellers, all trying to escape the cold. Percy was one such hopeful. Each year he’d meet with his friend Clive at the Ol’ Woefield Farm and they’d take the journey south together. The journey was long and perilous. If it wasn’t for Clive’s company, Percy feared he wouldn’t be able to make it.

Clive circled the farm a couple of times looking for Percy. He was a sight to be seen. He glided with ease, his wings at full span, waltzing his way through the sky. He perched on the wooden gate above the position where Percy was waiting. Clive sat there proud and handsome with his vibrant red throat, snow white chest and forked tail on display. Percy was the same age as Clive but life had taken its toll on Percy, he looked far more worn. He was a lot plumper and had a few grey feathers and a thinning plume.

“Hi ya Percy. Are you ready? Fit and able?”

“Hi Clive. As good as can be. Bit tired though.”

“You’re not taking that with you again are you? Looks like you’ve got more stuff in there.” Clive pointed to the birdcage Percy was sitting on.

“Of course I am. I take it everywhere with me. And yes, there are more things inside.” Percy adjusted his feet on the birdcage handle. The cage was a simple design; long silver wires rose in parallel, vertically from the solid base, and then curved sharply inwards, joining together to form a dome. The join was covered with a silver circular plate that provided the mount to attach the handle. The cage could be easily mistaken for a tiny garden pagoda.

“Why do you carry that around with you?”

“The cage reminds me of the time when I was captured. It’s the cage they kept me in.”

“What about the stuff inside?”

“It’s all stuff to remind me of my past. Take that little bell for example.” Percy hopped through the missing cage door and picked up the little bell. “This belonged to the cat that killed the mother of my kids. After it tore her to shreds, a dog chased it into the road where it got hit by a car. The bell fell off its collar and rolled down the hill. I collected it and put it in the cage.”

“Mate, that’s terrible. Have you got any good memories in there?”

Percy hopped around the outside of the cage, twitching his head to view the contents. “No, it doesn’t look like it.” He jumped back onto the handle. “We’d better go, we don’t want lose the light.” He flapped his wings furiously, struggling to take off. The cage finally left the ground.

Clive flew alongside Percy, watching him struggle. “Are you sure you’re okay Percy?”

“I don’t know if I’ll make it.” Percy struggled to get his sentence out. He was already out of breath. “I’m so tired. It’s all the time now. I hate getting up in the morning, I’m always missing out on the worms. I end up pigging out on anything I can get my beak on. I hate my life at the moment.”

“That’s not good mate, that’s not good.” He looked down at the cage. “Have you ever thought of losing the cage?”

“What? Never.”

“Why not? It’s weighing you down.”

“I can’t. I’ve had it for so long. What would I do without it? Just the thought scares me.”

“You don’t have to be scared. I’m here for you. Let it go and I’ll help you through it.” He smiled at Percy.

Percy gave a nervous grin back. He took a big gulp, closed his eyes and released his grip. He immediately soared into the sky. He circled Clive, bobbed, weaved, and did a loop the loop. “This is awesome. I haven’t been able to do this for ages.”

“How do you feel?”

“I feel great. No, better than great. I feel like I’ve got my life back.” He stopped flapping, spread his wings and hung in the air.

Clive caught up with him. “Wow, Percy, you look fantastic.” As they increased their pace, Percy’s grey feathers came loose and drifted away. By the time they reached Africa, he had a new slender waistline. He dived onto the beach and took a sand bath. He raised himself up and let the grains trickle through his feathers. He joined Clive on the washed up tree trunk.

“You know what Clive? I feel like a new bird.”

“Well in that case, let’s go and find you one.”