The Finch for the Family

Stationed next to the post office was a burlap sack. The wind was a moderate howl that fanned away the early afternoon heat and allowed for the villagers to find the cool of the moon’s enterprise. The post office’s hours were closed and not even the man who turned the sign to indicate so had been anywhere to be found.

The boy looked up and in every direction there were a couple angles where the sun didn’t strain his developing eyes; he paused for a few seconds of uninterrupted bliss – it was just him and the bag. There were no rules and no calling at his name to begin the enforcement of punishment. He knew the sun was going to run faster off the horizon than he’d be able to run back home- he would be late for dinner and his mother’s prayers for supper would include the name of her first born and the apologies for not disciplining him well enough.

Instead of making a hearty effort to run like an African antelope, he stood there marking his territory in the spirit of guarding himself from the troubles of his mother’s voice. He didn’t want to leave until the wind changed direction or until the moon indicated that his shirt was no match for the evening chill.

The bag intrigued his inner boy fantasies- he wondered about the secrets to the seventh wonder of the world, the riches that his father often sought in the gambling town next door, and even simply the chocolate bars that teased him from Ms. Addow’s bake shop window. What seemed like a solid weight pinching at the edge of the bag started moving and caused the boy to run to it. He undid the string that held the body captive and from the hole emerged the beak of a small finch-

“Wowzer, golly goodness of Mary the Saint. I ain’t no dummy but this here is a birdy”.

The boy had a couple options but none of them would ring clearly when explaining to mother. He dropped his shoulders and asked the finch if he could let it loose. After all, the town was big enough for the two of them and however intimate their meeting; he knew it should find its own place. And so, the bird flew towards the sun trusting its endurance and compass to a heavenly realm.

The boy took the burlap sack and hooked the drawstring on his right shoulder. He left the hole big enough in case the finch didn’t say goodbye and wanted to reunite. His appetite for his mom’s cooking was increasing and independent of the scolding he’d receive later, he knew her love was unconditional and his father would tuck him in bed when all’s said and done. He tucked his worries in the dirt and was light on his feet as he sped on home.

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