Rhetorical Question

Flash-fiction by Paul Kindlon


Who was that who ran wildly after school instead of playing
war with Timmy and opened the bird cage so Willy could fly
about freely, but especially so he could follow you around
fluttering happily above and behind his favorite kid in the
whole house while you led him down the corridor and through
the hallway to your bedroom whose door was open until you
slammed it shut knowing full well that Willy was right behind
ready to enter with you, but who came crashing into the suddenly
closed door instead bashing his tiny blue head with a bump
you could hear as you stopped inside the room where no one
but you knew what happened or why and where you stood
in awe and shock as if surprised by the effect you intended
but now regret because you’re not that way or so you thought
until this moment as you fear the consequences after mom
finds out which will be soon so you hide and pretend you
don’t know while you wait for the bird to be found hopefully
alive because you don’t want it to die really or so you try to
convince yourself as footsteps draw near and a frightening
scream is heard which forces you to open the door and see the
work you’ve done on the floor with its feathered torso
breathing heavily as if trying to pump back more life by
filling up with more air while you watch with remorse and a
sickening feeling that maybe you do know who you are as
mom takes the bird into her palms and carries him back to his
cage telling you that you should have been more careful
because birds have wings and need unhindered space to fly
through freely, you see, which is something you knew
all along, but you act like this is fresh news and express
your regret hoping that maybe Willy will make it through
with only a few bruises, but when you see him lying in his
cage with weakened eyes and breathing slower now you
know that soon your soul will change forever and that you’ll
have to live with the fact that you murdered an innocent
animal who loved you – even sang for you – and who still,
even at this late stage, stares at you in wonder with a
puzzled look on his broken face and beads of blood slowly
dripping down over sad sleepy eyes that finally close
making you burst into tears as your mother consoles you
without having the slightest idea that she gave birth six
years ago to a monster who still has the power to close
a door quickly at any time.

Paul Kindlon was raised in Albany NY, lived in Chicago for 16 years and has been a resident of Moscow, Russia, for 24 years. Life adventures: musician, stage actor, journalist, professor, short-story writer, Ph.D. in Philosophy and Russian Literature. He enjoys jazz, classical music, quantum physics, cats, and travel.

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