The Spare Paper Bird
They chose him from a plethora of colors, untouched from their disuse. Now They went back to the group, deftly pulling out various colors without disturbing the others. He saw a yellow get pulled and laid at his feet. An orange with two slices of magenta followed soon after.
There were so many to choose from—a blue, a green with stripes, a shimmering metallic purple to name a few. Even the different tones varied. Some had ink etched in perfect lines across their smooth bodies. Others looked like they had been run through a kindergarten class during a lesson in finger-painting. Some were wrinkly, having been subject to a bath before getting placed along the line.
Yet even so, there were some that were born being rich and wealthy. Those that already knew they were destined for greatness.
They were too extravagant for his tastes. One decked out head to toe in molten gold replaced the yellow that was originally placed at his feet. The light hit the gold at the wrong angle, sending a beam of light into his eye, and he leaned backwards, away from the obtrusive newcomer.
One by one, more were chosen, until their numbers ranged between the late twenties and early thirties all scattered over the surface.
Finally finished selecting the potentials for the next step, he watched as They took a second look. First to go was that atrocious yellow—bright as the sun and just as painful to stare at. This one went back into the pile he had just come from minutes before.
A mismatched variety of blue tones were removed next, discarded on top of the yellow. Gone was the neon green with polka dots. A purple with silver and white accents. A pink with lovely flowers. One way or another, these all found their ways to the discard pile, having not met Their expectations, but ready to fight another day.
Even his twin, a vibrant red that lit up any surface it was laid upon under the light, was gently tugged out from underneath the group and sent his own merry way.
And then, hidden underneath a rough sky blue textured, he saw an elegant shade of blue. It must have gotten stuck when They pulled the other one—sensing its chance when its partner was rejected.
Not too dark—with just the right amount of black balancing it out.
Not too light—enough to outshine the sky blue above.
He watched in growing anticipation as they scrutinized this stowaway. Would they choose such a simple character over one spewing popularity? They hesitated, glancing at him across the table, the gold he was trying desperately to dull with his tiny shadow, and then back at the hopeful blue, quivering at Their interrogation
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
And back and forth again.
He dreaded the thought of sharing a space with the flamboyant color. They reached for the gold, pulling it out to inspect the details of glossy metal. He could not speak his mind for he had no voice and no throat to project if he had one. He could not wave his wings nor waggle his tail to get their attention—being too small to catch their eye. But he tried to catch the blue's eye, yet it remained still and silent where it was, having not yet received the smallest breath of life.
No gold! No gold! He tried to say, desperately stretching his neck out towards the blue. But he tipped forward, and fell over, denting his beak on the hard counter.
He watched helplessly as the gold was lifted up, up, up, and out of his sight.
Then a sudden draft sent the beautiful blue cartwheeling off the table. In an instant, a second gust of wind knocked him off his feet—off the table—tossing him into the air. He flapped his little red wings in vain as he struggled to stay afloat in space. He saw as They quickly seized the blue, slamming it down before it drifted to the floor. Before he had the time to right himself, he found himself falling forward, being the top-heavy bird he was. He spun around and around—seeing nothing but the dizzying flashes of color. Through his fall, he could see the stained wood flying up at him at frightening speeds he couldn't hope to control.
But he also caught glimpses of that blue, getting closer and closer after each flip.
Gentle fingers caught him before he hit the table. He blinked rapidly, struggling to regain his sight after that dizzying descent, stuck in a sideways position in his owner's grasp. Gently, They placed him back on the table, setting him right side up. They even reached over to straighten his dented beak, and stretch out his crumpled wing.
They settled down not too far from him, and brought the blue over. He watched in excitement as they flattened their finalist out and started making the preliminary modifications for his companion.
Seconds passed like minutes, and minutes passed like hours as he sat there, wide-eyed and breathless as the actions unfolded. The steady sound of crumpling and creasing made up the sound in the silent room. Everyone appeared to be holding their breath as the experiment continued on.
He must have leaned too far forward in his eagerness, for they paused for a moment, leaving the diamond on the table just to push him back up to a safer position.
Then the head—no the tail!—formed in front of his very eyes. Moments later, the head was formed, and the pretty blue thing blinked at her new surroundings, scanning everything in her periphery. She couldn't see him for the time being—not until they turned her around.
Her right wing was formed first, pulled up and stretched out like his was. Then the second, and soon their owner placed her down in front of him, turning her so she could see him for this first time in her new form.
Her eyes widened in surprise. Perhaps she was surprised by his existence. If he hadn't seen the others made after him, he wouldn't have been aware of any others either.
He waggled his wing in a customary greeting, giving her a view of his worn and tattered folds. Her folds on the other hand, were fresh and sharp, no hint of fraying on the edges. He'd been lonely for so long, with no company save for their owner and some very short, blunt ended pencils. Accepted or rejected, he was just pleased with her presence, no matter how temporary or permanent it happened to be.
But to his surprise, she waved her blue wings gently, acknowledging his gesture. She swayed forward for a moment, and it took a great deal of straightening to stay upright.
Then their owner came back with some clear strings and gently wove one through his center, tying a knot below to keep him secure. They placed him on his side as they wove the other string through her as well, making sure to keep their wings clear of the cutting line.
Then they were going up, up, up together, swinging wildly, connected by the thin string. They were left alone drifting in space, spinning side-by-side among all the other colorful birds he'd seen taken flight long ago.