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Where Are All the Birds?
This story is written in response to a challenge by Jennifer Arnett (Availasvision). She posted the challenge in a forum, "Would you like to participate in a short story challenge?" Each of us will give our own interpretation of the picture in her post.
The Little Girl
All little girls love birds but this one had a special affinity for them. When she walked in the forest any nearby birds would fly by her and she would giggle at their presence. She loved to watch them fly, they were so graceful. She made sure to visit them at least once a day. When she put a bird feeder near her house they came and ate the seeds, sometimes there was only one bird, sometimes there were lots of birds, but no matter how many, they always came. Often they made nests in the trees behind her house. She loved watching the baby birds and waiting for them to be big enough to fly.
When her mother told her they were moving to the city her heart was broken. Where would she see her birds? There's no place for them in the city, at least she had never seen birds in pictures of the city. Her mother assured her there were birds in the city and she was sure to see them. She felt a little better but was still apprehensive.
The little girl didn't really like the city. It was noisy and crowded all the time. Even at night she could hear the traffic outside her window and the bright lights shined in. She wondered how any birds could live here, where would they eat, where would they nest? Her mother took her to a nearby park and there they saw a few pigeons but no other birds. She looked everywhere but they just weren't around. She did like the park though, at least it had grass and trees.
She had brought one of her bird feeders from home but there really wasn't any place to put it. She looked all around the building they lived in but the only thing around was other buildings and lots of traffic. She couldn't imagine how you could hang a bird feeder here.
She met a little boy who lived in her building and wondered if he could help her find the birds. She told him her plight. At first he laughed but then he realized she was serious. She was really looking for birds.
The Little Boy
The little boy began thinking about the birds and realized he hadn't seen too many lately. As a matter of fact all he had seen were pigeons and not too many of them. That was really strange. The little girl and the little boy talked about the birds. They began looking in books and watching their neighborhood to see if there were any birds but the answer was always no, not even a feather. How could that be?
The little boy had lived in the city all his life and he was sure he had seen birds. He asked his father and his father laughed and told him there are birds everywhere, even in the city. This was now a puzzle to him so he told the little girl they could try to find the birds together and solve this puzzle. They would find clues and then find the birds, he was sure of it. He asked her if she brought any birdseed with her and she told him she had. They agreed to meet at the park the next day and sprinkle some birdseed to see what happened, after all birds like to eat birdseed.
They sprinkled the bird seed and waited but no birds came. He told her they might be in the wrong spot so they went to another place in the park and again sprinkled the birdseed. They sat very quietly and waited again. Still no birds. After several attempts they decided it might just be a bad bird day and they would come again tomorrow.
Where Are All the Birds?
They went to the park every day and every day they went deeper into the park hoping to find the birds. They sprinkled the bird seed and waited. Then they moved to another spot, sprinkled the bird seed and waited. They didn't find any birds but they did find an old park keeper's house. It was a stone building with a green tile roof. At least it had a green tile roof when it was new. Now it was all tarnished and brown looking. It had three doors. They could barely read the words on the doors. One door said "office", one said "bathrooms" and one said "maintenance. It was starting to get dark so they decided to come back the next day to check the building, after all, the building was spooky enough In the daylight, no reason to check it in the dark. That night the little boy asked his father about the building and he said it hadn't been used for years. City budget cuts had closed it down and he'd better stay away from it. Abandoned buildings are no place for children. Of course that made him want to go there even more!
The next morning the little girl and the little boy met so they could head to the park keeper's building. The little boy didn't tell the little girl what his father had said, he didn't want to scare her. They talked and laughed as they headed deeper into the woods of the park and toward the building. The little girl had remembered to bring her birdseed and sprinkled it everywhere in hopes a bird would come. After all, they hadn't seen any birds yet but this could be the day.
It was almost lunchtime by the time they reached the building but they weren't hungry, they were interested in the building and what might be inside. They looked all around the building but the few windows the building had were very high and they couldn't see in them. The little boy said he was going to try the doors. The little girl was afraid but didn't want the little boy to know so she said okay. They tried the office door but couldn't open it. Then they tried the maintenance door but couldn't open that either. The little girl was getting discouraged but the little boy said not to, there was one door left.
When they walked around to the other side of the building the door marked bathrooms was the only one there, alone in the back of the building. There was one window way up high that probably let some light into the bathroom. The little boy told the little girl the building had been abandoned for a long time so there was no telling what they would find inside. Animals could have gotten in so she had better let him go in first just to be safe. He didn't want her to know he was scared, after all he was a boy and she a girl.
He pushed the door. At first it didn't move, years of not being used had swelled the door making it hard to open. They decided to push together, each not wanting the other to know they were afraid, and slowly the door gave way. Since they were both pushing they both entered the bathroom at the same time. When they did they both screamed and ran out.
They were frightened by the writing on the bathroom door.
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