Julia Nichols

All it took was one gust of wind, battering against the side of a bird with already weakened wings like waves crashing against crumbling cliff walls. It was too young to know how to combat the winds. It was broken, alone in a world so big, so terrifying.

A world full of giants with seeking, harmful appendages and tools that tore down tree-branch homes and made big noises that downed other birds in a burst of feathers and gore. These giants terrified the bird and all the birds that came before it, forests falling silent when one wandered along the barely beaten path, snaking in between the trees. They were loud but not enough so to drown out the warning calls of crows.

The bird was sure if it was quiet, it wouldn’t be noticed.

It tried to move, tried to struggle to its feet and fly away but as those footfalls got closer, it was sure this would be the end. A giant towered over the bird, looking at it with large eyes. There were no feathers, only down that fluttered over the eyes. Those large appendages reached, scooping up the bird . It was more gentle than what the small bird had seen before. Ducks grabbed by their necks and slung over the bodies of giants still haunted the bird.

But it was picked up and taken back to a giant home. It was confining unlike the trees and nests that the bird had always known. It was warm and there was no wind. There were holes to the outside but no breeze entered from the clear view of the outside world. There were no sounds of birds, there were no sounds of leaves rustling. The bird was no longer in its home but in the lair of a giant, only waiting for when the bird would meet the fate of countless other birds before it.

Yet it never came.

The bird was wrapped in warmth, its broken wing removed from the new nest it was sheltered in. The giant seemed to be tending to the bird, wrapping its wing and placing it on a splint to keep it straight.

The giant tried to provide food but the bird struggled to trust the giant, even with its eyes, gentle like the eyes of the fawns that used to wander the forest that the bird knew. Its eyes, earth-colored and deep, were curious and ever-sparkling. They were caves of glow worms that the bats spoke of in their midnight chatter.

The bird was hesitant to receive food from the giant, terrified that it was all some guise to be fed poison berries yet hunger was stronger than any trepidation of accepting the strangely-colored mash that the giant offered. The bird was weak and tired, finally crumbling to be fed the lump that smelled cold and sterile. The bird was fed mashed up worms, colder than it was used to yet the bird was grateful. The giant was gentle and offered more food even though the bird couldn't fit anymore. The nest remained warm and the bird was able to sleep, a full stomach. So the bird learned it could have food, and trusted food from the giant. It began to trust the water puddle, taking small sips at first before learning that this water was no different than the rain water.

The more food there was, the more the bird learned it could trust the giant. It was gentle, guiding slow strokes along the bird's back. It took the stiff wing-cage off then it was time. Food continued.

Then the giant pulled the bird out of its nest one day, pulling it into a soft-sunned room. The height wasn't as big as the trees but the drop was sudden and the bird fell with a loud screech. But the landing didn't hurt and the bird bounced and fell again.

The bird tried to pull away from the giant the next time it tried to pick the bird up yet it was captured anyway. Captured and dropped. Dropped and captured in a cycle. That was until the bird opened its wings and soared a distance, landing and standing on its own legs.

Julia Nichols