Once upon a time there was a girl who would only feel at peace with the world when she was on the highest roof top of her town.
From there she would sit and watch the hustle below her – people going in and out of shops, old ladies going for yet another cup of coffee with their friend, young people going for yet another takeaway together, toddlers in push chairs, mums looking lonely, builders fixing buildings and… birds.
Birds. Flying and perching themselves on neighboring rooftops, were watching this ongoing show too. Collared doves, pigeons, gulls and jackdaws – whose shrieks were the score of every single day, weather permitting.
The rooftops were her secret and her escape. From the roofs she could see the forest beyond the edge of the town, the open skies and the limitless horizon.
The light would change with the seasons.
The skyline around town had been shrinking lately, as the town’s folks were selling it to build more and more towering blocks of flats.
Like most people, she was locked indoors during the day, rain – mostly – or shine.
And like the vast majority of her kind, she was trapped in a jail of her own making.
Her cage was of a slightly different kind. Every once in a while, even in the best tended aviary a bird breaks free. After enough determination and patience, they make for the door with all their might, as soon as it opens – they only have a split second – they either succeed or they don’t.
She will try that. But she will need to grow wings first.
If she had wings, she would just fly. Here. Now.
She would just step on the edge of the roof top she is currently standing on, in full view, spread her wings and jump, taking a leap into the unknown, in the vastness of the sky.
Geese fly over her head, honking loudly, as if to remind her of her human condition (foolishness?).
Men have designed and built wings, air-crafts, gliders and parachutes. Girls have fairy dust.
This girl knew that flying was a state of mind. She had faith that one day she would grow wings, make for the skies, and go on a course of her own.
A peregrine falcon soars above the church too. She knows he is her bird body.
He knows just what to do – as if remotely controlled by an expert flyer. He dives, scoops up a vole from the grass and flies upwards towards his nest in the church roof.
She leaves the peregrine to his meal, back inside her own body, she is still out of breath and starts to feel light headed. She lies in the sun for a while, looking at the clouds.
A pigeon has landed near her, watching her, cocking his head.
“You can’t fly, you silly giiiirl” He teases.
Why don’t you bring your own food with you next time?
The girl slowly turns her head towards him. Despite their bird shape, pigeons are always earthly reminders of worldly matters, such as food and shelter. Perhaps that’s because they spend so much time on the ground amongst humans eating their scraps, she thought.
At least, there are no rats here… he continued sharply … or children with stones. So you’ll be safe here, silly giiiirl. Safe.
Safety. She thought, that’s it. Everybody is obsessed with safety. Parents want their children to keep safe. Safety is what we all have in common:
Animals build their homes to be safe – whether nest high in tree canopies or underground dens. Birds perch and roost on trees to stay safe from predators such as foxes.
What is she keeping safe from?
Who is she keeping safe from?
Despite her visits on the rooftops, despite all the safety precautions and denial of well meaning although slightly smug and belligerent pigeons, there is no escaping IT.
She climbs back down the ladder to Earth and heads back home to her old dog, who has been patiently waiting for her all afternoon. The dog doesn’t care much about her escapades.
The dog lives in the blur of dream life and reality. She doesn’t always know which one is which. She spends more time inside her own illusions – sleeping and day dreaming – than actually living these days.
Dreams are just another kind of cage.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to get your feedback. I might share Chapter II, if I feel brave enough…