Rhetorical Question

Flash-fiction by Paul Kindlon

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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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