|Please Don't Feed The Birds
Author: perhaps then you'd notice me PM
She doesn’t understand, and those who were on the platform with her offer no solutions. They are all just strangers, inadvertently connected by a single tragedy. Nominated for La Campanella, Le Tragedy Award. Please read and hopefully voteRated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Chapters: 9 - Words: 5,648 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-28-09 - Published: 12-11-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2607267
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The pigeons take to the air, a fluttering frenzy, as the next train pulls into the station. Their peaceful waddling interrupted, they are now part of a chaotic crush to get in the train, and desperately try to escape. Some go up, some to the side, some are almost crushed underfoot. But the pigeons know that when the train has left, there will be calm again. It seems to take an age, but they know that soon enough all will be normal again, and they can resume their customary hunt for scraps. They coo gently to each other, hiding secrets and looking foolish. Their dashboard figurine appearance is the norm, and, as the shock of the train's arrival fades, they fall back into it. The pigeons – though not as daring as the crows, or as skittish as the sparrows – trust their knowledge.
The mother takes her daughter's hand and leads her into the train. Avoiding briefcases and feet, the small child follows her mother's lead, clutching her hand like it's her salvation. As she does so, her face is bemused and full of questions but she doesn't ask a single one. She doesn't understand what has happened, and appears to get the feeling that she doesn't want too. She can't see her mother's face. If she could, she'd see the tear tracks down her mother's cheeks, and the redness in her eyes. If she could see her mother's face, maybe then she'd understand. But she can't see her mother's face, and if she could, maybe her faith in her mother's promise would be lost.
The women slowly approach the train, behind the crush to get in the doors, waiting patiently for people to get off before they get on. They are subdued, their age showing now as they accept an offer for a seat. Collapsing, they avoid each other's eyes, lost in their own world, going over the news of the day. Their wrinkles have grown more pronounced as the laughter has faded, and their eyes are crestfallen. Each line on their faces grows deeper as they remember, the one who had been feeding the pigeons looking all the worse. Then slowly, as the train begins to rock, a lone tear tracks down her face, her tribute to a boy she barely knew.
The boy rocks with the train, letting himself slide and fall. He seems uninterested in the world around him, hidden inside his head. His eyes look distant as he sways disinterestedly. Although he is almost crushed by the other commuters on the busy train, looking at him, you get the impression that he is isolated. His powerful legs shaking, his face stops being blank as he concentrates for a moment, standing rigid. His phone is forgotten on the platform, and if you were told his voice once boomed across the station, you would find it hard to believe. He is the image of someone completely and utterly helpless. Even so, looking at him, it's hard not to wonder what his story is.
The girl stands alone in between compartments. The small gap in the open air is cold as the wind rushes past, and signs warn passengers not to travel there. But no-one dares venture out there to retrieve her, instead content with ignoring her presence. The girl seems to have found her voice and is sobbing uncontrollably. She clutches the safety rail for support, her clothes and hair whipping around her. She makes no attempt to save face as she struggles to stay upright. Her body shaking, she stares to the sky and cries out once, a loud yell. Passengers on the train glance to her, and then return to their newspapers – even they could hear her yell. Why? She asks. She doesn't understand, and those who were on the platform with her – the pair of elderly women, the mother and her daughter, and the boy her age – offer no solutions. They are all just strangers, inadvertently connected by a single tragedy.