Re: Songbird in an Iron Cage [Birdie]Mature

When Eliana Alegria Ramirez was a very small girl her father brought her the most beautiful gold and black canary back from one of his paddle steamer trips down the river to Soledad. The family installed the new pet in a grand wrought iron cage in the music room. The cage was much larger than Eliana; its intricately fashioned metal bars had been skilfully manipulated into the silhouettes of palms and exotic flowers which climbed the cage walls all the way up to a resplendent dome at the top. It was decorated with glittering mirrors and bells so that the overall impression was so magnificent that it even exceeded the palatial decor of the old Ramirez mansion itself. Her mother instructed the servants to feed the canary a regal diet of seeds, cuttlefish, broccoli, carrot and apple. On birthdays the fortuitous bird would receive a handful of cake crumbs.

 Eliana named the bird Pico and she loved him with every inch of her being. She greeted him every morning, whispered him childish words of love through the bars and delighted in the accompaniment as he sang along to her piano lessons, much to her piano teacher’s displeasure.  She was a solitary child but the bird gave her an early experience of companionship and thus she dutifully confided in the creature. When the room was empty she would tell it her darkest secrets, hopes and fears. More than anything she wanted to hold the little bird, to stroke his silky feathers and feel his miniscule heart beat in her hands. However, no matter how repeatedly she asked, pleaded or begged, her mother would not allow her to pick him up –she was too young and the bird was too delicate.
 
As the months passed, Eliana’s father spent less time in the Ramirez mansion and more time down the Magdalena River in Soledad, sometimes for weeks on end. Eliana’s mother spent less time smiling and more time drunk in the parlour, often snoring on the divan with a narrow stream of dribble oozing from the corner of her wine-stained mouth. On the occasions when her father did return there would be blazing arguments with much screaming and cursing. It was not unusual for her mother to emerge from the parlour with a black eye or a terrible bruise on her face. On those weeks she would wear a veiled hat to church on Sunday and would usher Eliana out at the end of the service before anyone had the chance to talk to them.

 When Eliana heard the shouting she would escape to the music room to play and sing as loud as she could. With the little bird that she doted on cheerfully singing along, the horrifying commotion was almost drowned out.

 Eliana’s solitude increased in these days, and she spent ever more time in the music room. When her mother drunkenly informed her that her father was never coming back it was to this sanctuary that she fled, tears streaming down her hot face. All alone, lost in her sorrow, the little girl decided that today she desperately needed to hold the canary, to embrace her best friend. She slid the piano stool over to the side of the cage, climbed it and with some difficulty prised open the door of the cage. Gently sobbing, she reached her trembling hands in and gripped the tiny creature.

 Of course her mother had been right and the child crushed the little bird to death in her eager, clumsy hands. The problem with Eliana was that she just loved things far too much.

Word count: 600

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