Birdcage

There once was a girl born without a heart. In its place was a birdcage.

The sparrow, the robin, wrens, gulls, puffins, an owl, waders and warblers; all sorts of birds made their home in the birdcage.

But as soon as they left, flying off to fish or hunt or nest or go south, the girl’s birdcage was left empty and soundless.

One day, a man tired to buy the birdcage from the girl, but every time he reached inside her chest, his fingers slipped through the bars, and he lost his grip on the metal.

Scientists asked her how she felt and if she could breathe. They asked if it hurt, and who had put it there and how it worked.

But the girl could not answer them.

Often she was tired.

The empty birdcage was not good at crying or laughing or screaming or any of the things a heart would be good at.

A man wanted her heart.

But the girl said, “A birdcage cannot love or break. It waits, empty, for birds. I have no heart to give you.”

“Then I cannot give you mine.” The man said.

So desperate was she to give a heart to the man, the girl stole one.

But when the man saw that the heart was stolen, he did not want it.

A passing flock of swallows saw the stolen heart. They had not eaten for months. They fell on the girl.

More and more birds joined, until there was nothing left of her but the birdcage.