Short Stories

The girl and the enchanted bird

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a bird as her best friend.

He was a bird unlike any other: he was enchanted.

Ordinary birds, if the cage door is opened, will leave never to return. But the girl’s bird flew free and came when she missed her… Her feathers were different too. They changed color. They were always painted by the colors of the strange and distant places where he flew. Once came back all white, huge tail of fluffy feathers like cotton …

“Girl, I come from the cold, snow-capped mountains, all beautifully pure and white, shining in the moonlight, hearing nothing but the sound of the wind crackling the ice that covers the tree branches. I brought in my feathers a little of the charm I saw as a gift to you …

And so he began to sing the songs and stories of that world the girl had never seen. Until she fell asleep, and dreamed that she flew on the bird’s wings.

Again it turned red as fire, golden feather on its head.

–– I come from a land burned by drought, hot and waterless land, where the big, the small and the animals suffer the sadness of the sun that does not go out. My feathers were like that sun, and I bring the sad songs of those who would like to hear the noise of the waterfalls and see the beauty of the green fields.

And again the stories began. The girl loved that bird and could hear it over and over, day after day. And the bird loved the girl, and that was why she always came back.

But the time came for sadness.

“I have to go,” he said.

– Please do not leave. I get so sad. I will miss you. And I’ll cry … – And the girl pouting …

“I will miss you too,” said the bird. – I’ll cry too. But I’ll tell you a secret: plants need water, we need air, fish need rivers … And my charm needs longing. It is that sadness, waiting for the return, that makes my feathers beautiful. If I don’t go, I won’t miss you. I will stop being an enchanted bird. And you will stop loving me.

So he left. The girl, alone, cried at night of sadness, wondering if the bird would return. And it was on one of those nights that she had an evil idea: “If I lock him in a cage, he will never leave again. He will be mine forever. I will miss him no more. And I will be happy …”

With these thoughts, he bought a beautiful silver cage for a bird he loves very much. And was waiting. It has finally arrived, wonderful in its new colors, with different stories to tell. Tired of the trip, fell asleep. It was then that the girl, carefully, so that he would not wake up, locked him in the cage, so that he would never leave her again. And fell asleep happily.

Woke up at dawn, with a moan from the bird …

–– Ah! girl … what did you do? The spell was broken. My feathers will be ugly and I will forget the stories … Without longing, love will go away …

The girl did not believe it. She thought he would eventually get used to it. But this is not what happened. Time passed, and the bird became different. Feathers and plume fell. The reds, greens and blues of the feathers turned to a sad gray. And the silence came: it stopped singing.

The girl, too, was saddened. No, that wasn’t the bird she loved. And at night she wept, thinking about what she had done to her friend …

Until he couldn’t take it anymore.

He opened the cage door.

–– You can go, bird. Come back any time you want …

— Thank you Girl. I have to leave. And I need to leave so the longing comes and I want to go back. Far away, longing, many good things begin to grow within us. Whenever you miss me, I’ll be more beautiful. Whenever I miss you, you’ll be prettier. And thou shalt adorn thee, to wait for me …

And left. It flew that flew, to distant places. The girl counted the days, and with each passing day the longing grew.

–– Good thing – she thought – my bird is being enchanted again…

And she would go into the wardrobe, choose the dresses, and comb her hair and put a flower in the jar.

— Never know. He may be coming back today…

Unbeknownst to her, the whole world was becoming enchanted, like the bird. Because he should be flying from anywhere and from every side would come back. Ah!

Wonderful world, guarding somewhere in secret the enchanted bird you love…

And that was how she went to bed each night, sad with longing, but happy with the thought: “Who knows if he will return tomorrow ….”

And so I slept and dreamed of the joy of reunion.

* * *

For the adult reading this story to a child:

This is a story about separation: when two people who love each other have to say goodbye …

After the goodbye is that huge emptiness: the longing.

Everything fills with the presence of an absence.

Ah! How good it would be if there were no goodbyes …

Some even think of locking in cages those they love. So that they are theirs forever … So that there are no more departures …

Few know, however, that it is the longing that makes people delighted. Nostalgia makes desire grow. And when the desire grows, the hugs get ready.

This story, I didn’t make it up.

I was sad, seeing the sadness of a child crying a farewell … And the story just appeared inside me, almost done.

Why a story? Those who do not understand think it is for fun. But that is not it.

It is that they have the power to transfigure everyday life.

They call anguish by their name and say fear in songs. With this, anguish and fears become tighter.

Of course they are for children.

Especially those who live within us, and are afraid of loneliness… The most beautiful stories by Rubem Alves Lisbon, Asa Editions, 2003

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