Claire did love the birds. After all, they had raised her and kept her safe from the wild weeds of the garden. And they had taught her about the trees.

"Always keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, and your head high up in the blue," they told her, "and one day you will grow wings like us and you will fly up to the trees to stay there." Indeed, the trees were beautiful. They shaded the garden and gave seed for the birds to eat. Yet their beauty also wielded a strange mystery, for they were so much higher than Claire. They loomed in the distance, too far to reach. When she was younger Claire thought she would grow tall enough one day to touch them, but it seemed now that the more she grew the father away the trees were. And that was when Claire noticed the flowers.

They were down there, on the dirty earth. The earth was a nasty place, the birds always said; she must keep her feet on the earth for lack of another place, but when she had wings she'd flee it gladly. Claire had always been taught never to look at the earth, for down there were foul creatures – worms and snakes and beetles and things she had never seen. But one day Claire was curious and thought that perhaps – just once – she might look down at the earth. And there were the flowers. They were bright and colorful, delicate and joyous, in shades of pink and red. They gave off a lovely scent which intoxicated her very being. And they were so close, not far off and terrible like the trees. She could touch them if she bent down. She wanted to touch them. The desire grew in her daily.

The birds sensed this longing, and grew sharp with her. They nipped at her sometimes, and tugged at her clothing to prevent her bending towards the flowers. They tied little strings to her wrists and pulled her back. But she tugged against them.

One day the dank beetles and foul creatures of the earth came and pinched at her bare feet. The earthworms caused a shudder to run through her body as they tilled the soil in which the lovely flowers grew. Claire cringed from the creatures. Fear filled her mind.

"If these are the creatures that keep company with the flowers, perhaps I do not want the flowers after all," she thought doubtfully, trying the sort matters in her mind.

Then a tempest came from the skies – a roaring wind that blew Claire's hair in wild directions, and that scattered rain over her face violently. Claire shivered.

"If this is what the sky is like," she thought, "perhaps I don't want to fly."

She stood there in the midst of it all, the gusty winds blowing her hair and clothes, her strength pulling against the ties of the birds whilst she was nipped on either side by both the birds and beetles, the trees and flowers looming in her mind the whole time. Her small body ached and her mind whirled, and she felt as though she would snap in two.


Author's note: Many people have asked whether this is a one-shot or not. It is. I know it's strange to leave it at this unsatisfactory ending, but it, being a fable, is a reflection of real indecision and therefore it is not the point of the story, right now, to tell if Claire chose the tress or the flowers. For my part, I have no idea.