Freedom's Song: a fable

They had known each other all their least all they remembered of their lives. Years ago, they had perched beside one another in the pet store, sharing moments of understanding amid the noise and fears of unknown futures. They had always been there for each other. Especially since that autumn day she came, paid her money and took them home.

Oh, how they longed to be free! Fluttering forlornly in their cage, they would see birds soaring high into the sky. Birds who resembled them in every way but one...freedom. Free to be who they were meant to be. Free to fly.

The plan began as a small seed of an idea, a glimmering in the eye, a key unlocking the door to hope. Why not? Why not escape? What was holding them back? A few bars on a cage, free food and comfort, the seduction of security. One day, they reasoned, she will forget. She'll walk away leaving our cage door ajar, and free we'll fly. Out the room. Out a window or door. Free, finally free!

And so they waited...watching, hoping, trusting. Not knowing when they awoke if this night they would sleep high in the sheltering arms of a tree. Would today be the day? Would the magic finally happen? Would their dream come true? This hunger for freedom consumed their lives. They ate little and sang less. It was as if their throats were blocked by the bile of desire.

Until the day came, dawning bright and clear. The day of their deliverance.

After filling their seed and water, the woman left the room...cage door unlatched, unscreened window open to Indian summer's warmth. And they bolted! But weakened by hunger and untried wings, they plunged to the floor. Outside the window, beckoning voices sang, "Fly! Fly, dear friends. Fly free!"

First one, then the other stretched and flapped, flapped and stretched. Until slowly, slowly they began to rise. One to the window, the other to the cage. While one flew free, the other went back home.

She often asked herself why she had not escaped with her friend, and the answer was strange. It was only in the choosing that she knew herself to be already free.

And she began to eat again and to sing. Her song became so poignantly beautiful, birds frequently perched outside her window to listen. She spoke to their hearts. And her companion? The one who had followed her dream? She stayed close to the house, often hungry and afraid, listening at the window to her sister's song.The other birds encouraged her to join them as they prepared to migrate south, but she couldn't bear to leave. It was as if she had carried her cage with her.

And the wind whispered in the trees, "Who is free? Who is free? Who is truly free?"

The end

I wrote this story in the autumn of 1993, after spending time with a friend who was considering leaving her husband of 25 years. When I read it now, my mind travels to the caged dreams of a cure held by so many of us differently abled folks. It makes me wonder if the freedom we seek lies less in our bodies than in our attitudes.

©1993-9 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

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