A story inspired by the legendary thorn bird. At the beginning of this story you will read the legend of the thorn bird then the story will begin. I hope this story touches your heart :) I hope to become a well-known writer!!! :D
The Thorn Birds
By Christopher Villareal
There is a legend of a bird called “The Thorn Bird.” The Thorn Bird Legend states that when born, the thorn bird is automatically driven by its primordial instincts to seek out a thorn tree. The bird travels its entire life searching for one special thorn tree to call its own. Sometimes a thorn bird will search for years; to the point of insanity.
Once the thorn bird finds its special tree, it is said to sit upon the highest branch and impale itself with a thorn; aiming for its heart. As the bird feels the pain and realizes it will soon be dead, it rises above the agony and sings the most beautiful song of the animal kingdom. Once the small bird reaches the songs apex, the bird's voice dwindles and finally, the Thorn Bird dies.
The Thorn Bird seeks its entire life for a thorn tree without rest and in the end, dies for one amazing song. It is sometimes said that when a Thorn Bird dies, a relationship will be tested through a broken heart.
Part One: The Thorn Tree
It was raining. The cold, weighed cry of the night echoed as the animals of the day crept to sleep. Behind the clouds draped the curtains of black and purple as they signaled the end of the day. Henry sat in the street with his head down. The rain drenched his brown hair and soaked his clothes; he sat un-protected and without a shield. The rain washed away the tears that fell from his eyes and camouflaged the grinding of his teeth with the crash of all its beads. Yet, the thunderous beat of the cloud's tears could not stop the sound of Henry's cries. He wept without humiliation. His eyes mimicked the clouds above him as the tears poured from their sockets.
In his arms was the only vessel of love that was left in his life. His daughter of only fifteen years slumped limply in his arms. Her head hung loosely beside his right forearm as the rain dripped and crashed onto her sharp chin. She lay horribly in her father's arms like Jesus, Holy Mary's. Her neck arched in a way beyond any normality. She was inexplicably and undeniably broken.
Gemma's spine crumpled between Henry's arms, making it hard for him to hold on to her. She pulled her head up, summoning up some of the only energy left in her body. The pain was nearly unbearable. It shot up her neck as if a wasp with a thousand stingers had flown straight up the base of her spine. But yet she had to say it. If it were the only thing she could say before meeting with the angels, she would say it. “Dad?” she whimpered. She could barely see her father’s face. The mixture of rain and tears blurred her vision. “Daddy?” It hurt her just to say the word. She was forcing herself. She knew it. “D - don’t hate me. . . I – I love you.”
She gasped. It had taken all of her energy to say those last few syllables but it was well worth it. She held her head up for just a bit longer. Just long enough.
“I love you too Gemm.” Henry replied.
There it was. She smiled sweetly as she finally let her head rest once more. The light in her heart shined brighter than before. It warmed her and relieved her of her pains. She no longer felt grief or sadness. She no longer winked at the beat of every rain drop. It was only her and her father; in a land of white light.
She tried once more; just one more time. She wanted him to hear her say it one more time. “I love you.” And she was gone.
“She was dead before the paramedics got to us.” Henry said.
“Oh my god Henry, I’m so sorry” Angela said with a frown. She placed an arm on his shoulder furthest away from her and scooted closer to him. She hugged him. He did nothing in response. He only stared at the television in front of him.
She held him just for a single a moment. It was probably no longer than a minute. But in that brief time, he enjoyed the love his sister gave him. It had been so long since they’d seen each other. When she let go of him, she sat straight up, turned to him and looked him in the eyes.
“Did you tell Ally?” she asked. He made no reply. She blinked. “What about mom? She’ll want to know.” She placed a hand on his knee. Again she waited for a response. Nothing. “Henry, I’m so sorry about Gemma, but you have to tell them. Ally has a right to know. She was her mother.”
Henry glared at her and snorted. “tsk.” Angela took a deep breath. “Henry. She has the right. It’s her daughter we’re talking about. If Gemma had chosen to stay with her, wouldn’t you want to know if –“
“Well she didn’t!” Henry snapped. “She didn’t choose Ally. She chose me! Her dad!” He pointed and pressed his pointer finger into his chest. “To hell with Ally! Gemma was too good for her! She knew it! That’s why she chose me!”
“Henry, she still deserves to know.” Angela replied tilting her head. She wasn’t sure if she could talk any sense into him right now. She paused when she saw the deep sadness in his face. She saw the tears collecting in his eyes. She could see the muscles in his cheeks tighten as he clenched his teeth. She could tell he was standing on a cliff of sadness. A cliff above a sea of depression and she was doing nothing but pushing him closer to the edge. He pursed his lips together tightly.
“Just stop.” He asked politely.
She decided to try one more time before listening to him. “Henry. Please. Ally ne-“
He swatted her hand off of him. He stood up from the couch and turned to face her completely. “I told you to leave it.” He said.
“Henry, I –“.
He turned, walked around the small couch and ran up the stairs.
It was just past twelve thirty. Henry paced down the halls of the mall and into the food court. The thunder and whine of people passing irritated him greatly. It had been two months since Gemma’s passing; and all the time he had avoided telling Ally the news. He’d succeeded in convincing Angela to wait to tell her until he was ready himself. How long would she wait? Henry knew by now that Angela would be thinking to betray him. To tell Ally of her late daughter.
He took a seat near the Chik-Fil-A and set down the two plastic bags he was carrying and their contents he had on a chair. He pulled the wallet from his back pocket and shuffled through its contents to find the picture of him and Ally when they were once a happy couple. He longed for the days he was once happy. Now that he’d seen Ally’s face from the picture, he noticed – just then – that Gemma greatly resembled Ally. Her nose and mouth were nearly the exact same, and their eyes were identical. In fact, the only difference he could see in Gemma between her mother was the color of her eyes. The blue tint that she had received from him. Probably the only real gift he had given her.
Henry was deep in thought when the purse hurtled into his shoulder. He flinched and shook the chair as he shut the wallet.
“You!” said a familiar voice “You jerk! I. . . .” she paused. “I gave her to you, and you let this happen?” she flung her arms in the air in a pout. Her cry was shrill. “Did you think I wouldn't find out? There were legal precautions that I had to go through after she died! Do you know how shocked I was when they told me she had died!?” Henry made no reply “You know, I just can’t believe you Henry. How could not tell me about Gemma!? She was my daughter!” She flung an accusing finger at him. “She wasn’t just yours!”
He looked up at her. She hadn’t changed much. Behind the tears and drifting make-up he could see the familiar face. Ally Bishop’s beautiful face. It was the same face he saw in his daughter. He smiled at the thought. Remembering Gemma brought back so many memories. It was a pity she was gone now.
Ally shook her head and stared at him with hate. “You’re smiling?” she said. She licked the side of her lip and tasted a tear that had fallen from her eye. “You’re more messed up in the head then I remember you to be.” She raised an arm to strike.
Henry lifted the two bags beside him and grabbed the risen arm. People were watching them now. There was a kind of hush in the food court that settled down its occupants. No one was speaking. Henry and Ally were the center of attention.
“Let go of me!” Ally yelled, yanking her arm from his grasp.
He stared at her with an expressionless look. “You’re making a scene.” He grabbed her arm again and pulled her out of the food court and through one of the many exits of the mall; all the while Ally did nothing but scream and shout. “Let go of me!” she would cry. “It’s all your fault! Everything!”
He continued to pull her into the parking lot where his dark blue truck was parked. “Are you even listening to me!?” Ally shouted. He did not reply. She flung an arm at him and jabbed his shoulder with the ridge of her car key. He cried out and released his grip. The pain shot up and down his arm and he reeled back and away from her. “What the hell Ally!?”
He saw the look in her eyes then. They were filled with nothing but hate. Her mouth bent in a saddened frown and her brow into an upside down “v”. She whimpered and sniveled. Do you hate me this much? He thought to himself.
They stood there for minutes. A long dreary moment passed by. She stared at him and noticed how much he had changed. He was no longer clean shaven like he used to be. Hair and fuzz grew all along the sides of his cheeks. His nose seemed smaller since he didn’t have the glasses on that he used to wear so much and he let his hair grow out so that it masked the look in his eyes. He’d lost a lot of weight too. The rough thin clothes hung loosely to his body and his stature was little more than a slump.
“What’s gotten into you?” Ally asked “What were you thinking when she died? When were you going to tell me about her? Did you think I wouldn’t find out? No, that shouldn’t even be the question. Were you even going to tell me?”
“Of course I was!” Henry shouted back. She flinched. “You don’t think I was going to tell you!?”
Ally began to speak. “Well you shou-“
“Shut up!” he interrupted. He dropped the bags to his side. “Who are you to say what and when I should tell you about Gemma!?” He saw her mouth move. “I said shut up! You didn’t do crap for us! Do you know why she chose me? Because I protected her from everything! What did you do?! Nothing!”
“I protected her from what I could.”
“Bull! You didn’t do anything! I took care of her and fed her while you were out with, with, with him!” He flung his arm in the air.
“Kaleb gave me money to keep the house payments in check. You know that!”
“It doesn’t matter! Do you not get that!? I would have rather lived on the street as a family than have income coming in from your affair! Gemma felt the same way!”
“You don’t know that!”
She stared down at the concrete at her feet. The sun was beating down hard that day. Her long black hair did nothing to cool her. She paused for a moment. The argument was getting out of control. She took a long deep breath before continuing. “Just tell me what happened and I’ll leave. I’ll tell Angela to send me the date of the funeral and after that, I’ll have nothing to do with you. Is that okay Henry? Is that what you want?”
Henry stared at her. The tears that were welling up in his eye sockets were blurring his vision. “Fine. Get in the car.”
“No. Tell me now and then I’ll-“
“Just get in the car. I’ll drop you off when we’re done.”
She thought it over. Henry was not the kind of person to pull something. She knew him better than that. “Okay.” She said dubiously.
They sat at a window table inside the Starbucks nearest to his apartment. It was the least busy place to talk. She held the tall double chocolate chip frappuccino between her two palms as they rested on the table.
“We were arguing.” Henry said. “I caught her and her boyfriend in her room when I got home when the bank let us out early and I told her weeks ago that I did not approve of him. She told me she loved him and he just sat there on the sideline. Like he didn't care.
“When he saw how mad I was getting, he rushed out of the house and told Gemm’ that ‘it was time that they split’. When he left she got so mad at me that she threatened to run away.” He paused to brush away a fly that was lingering over his coffee.
“I told her that I would never let that happen.” Henry continued. “That’s when she ran out of the house and into the street.”
Ally let out a whimper. She knew what was coming next. “God, no.” she whispered.
Henry tilted his head downward and stared at his coffee. “After the car hit her, the driver sped off so fast that I couldn’t identify his car. I couldn't even remember the license plate number. I called the paramedics and sat there in the rain with her until she died.”
Ally had already broken into tears. She sobbed so loudly that the small staff behind the coffee counter began to stare. The tears dripped endlessly down her cheeks. They pooled on the bronze, metal table. She pushed her frozen coffee to the side and put her hands to her face. “Gemma.” Tears and saliva muffled her words. “Gemma. Gemma I'm sorry.” She cried louder. “Gemma!”
Henry stared at her in awe. Maybe Ally really did care about Gemma. She didn’t show it until now. She acted like she wasn’t her child. But now, it was different. Ally cried for her lost child. “I’m sorry Ally.” He said just loud enough for her to hear. “I’m sorry.” There, they cried together.
The day was bright as the sun showered the earth with its golden rays. It seemed the perfect day had finally come. The clouds faded into the atmosphere. The sky was a perfect shade of light, baby blue and the winds did not argue over their terrain. It was just the sky and the land with all of its occupants. Quiet.
Quiet. Everything was quiet but the sobs of those below the sky. Henry and Ally stood at the grave as they watched the casket descend into the earth. She was sobbing into a white and brown handkerchief that she held tightly to her mouth and nose. The edges of the cloth caught her tears while the insides muffled her cries. Henry stood beside her. He rested his left hand on her right shoulder. Just one. Not too comfortable. Not quite yet. But he held that one shoulder with all the care in the world. He felt every shake she made, and very breath she took. He felt all her emotion too. The sadness drove over him like a steamroller over unfinished pavement. The thought that Gemma's body lay still in that silver frame pierced the love in his heart. The reminders of all the times he'd spent with her, and not once did she say “I love you”. No matter what kind of act Henry did for you, she would never say “I love you.” Not until she was ready.
Henry felt the tears begin to form in the small pockets beneath his eyes again. When he thought of those words being spoken from Gemma's lips he burst into tears. She'd finally told him “I love you” before she passed away. . . . and it was worth it. Every year, every day he waited. All the while, he grew more and more needy of the love that he was stripped of.
When the funeral was over, Henry and Ally sat together in the garden-like cemetery. The wind passed them with endless sorry; weeping and crying with the trees. A new soul had arrived today. A child's soul; barely past the days of adolescence, lay confined in the depths of the earth.
Henry soothed Ally with his company; wiping away the beads of sadness that fell from her eyes.
“Ally. . .” he said taking her chin and cheek with care “Ally, its not your fault.”
Ally wept. “It is. If I'd been there to help her. To help you . . . she . . .” Again, she cried into his shoulder. The tears soaked the fabric of Henry's shirt dampening the skin below it. He felt the warm, tears soften his clothing as he held Ally's body close to his.
“Ally, I . . .” he said.
He knew he would not be heard. His long lost love cried too powerfully for him to speak. He could feel the efforts of both his, and Ally's emotions weigh down on him like the world on Atlas' shoulders. It was as if hewere the illustrious giant, punished for his deeds, and tortured with the world's misery placed heavily on his neckline.
Then the memories came back. Gemma's innocent breath echoed through the air as the winds calmed down. A dull roar of peace hushed over him, and Ally was no longer in his arms. Instead, he sat on a small porch side bench attached to the ceiling with two strong chains. He rocked back and forth with a small, nearly weightless beauty in his arms. Gemma. The mid-morning sun shined brightly on the baby's skin, warming and caring for it. Breathing in life. Gemma, the small innocent child, stirred in the thin blue blanket that covered her body. Henry shifted his grip on her so that she would not come loose from his grasp.
He stared down at the sleeping beauty in her youngest days and cherished the silent love that poured out from the baby's heart. She was only maybe ten or eleven months old. He could see the youth behind her tiny eyelids. He felt the new child's tiny heart pump living blood through her. Then, Henry was brought to tears. He cried over the living child's body and held the baby close to him. All the love, and hidden care that had stayed deep in Henry's heart finally poured forth into the weighted being in front of him, and then, it stirred.
He pulled up and wiped away the tears that had fallen from his eyes with an empty hand as he supported the weight with his other.
“Henry?” said a voice. Henry blinked and saw the wind had totally died down and that again, he was in the cemetery. He looked down at Ally's tear filled eyes and saw the peaceful need for love in her eyes. “Ally.” he said. Then he leaned. Henry's eyes met hers and they stared beautifully in the midnight moon shine. Henry moved his face close to hers until he could feel the warmth from her breath and skin. “Ally, I . . .”
She interrupted him before he could finish, “I love you.” and her lips touched his. Passion began to take over and eventually, it overwhelmed their desires. The winds cheered up and plucked the fallen leaves from the earth; tossing them about with joy. The trees howled in encouragement as the confusing moment became one of passion. There they sat in their passion and their love. She,with her thorn bird; he, with his thorn tree.
End of Part One
Part Two: The Thorn Bird's Song
“Ally come on.” Henry took her hand in his, and pulled her into the garden just outside the flower shop.
“Henry, slow down.” Ally said playfully. She followed him with a slow stride and a hand on her hat; keeping the weightless red object on her head. “Henry, where are you taking me?” She smiled and sped up to keep on track with his steps. “Henry,” she repeated.
“Don't worry.” He said with a grin. “I swear you'll love it.”
They continued on into the pavement trailed field of grass and moved towards the large oak that sat peacefully in the garden's center. Before the tree became within clear sight, Henry placed a comforting hand on the the eyes of his new lover.
“I can't see. Henry, where are we going?”
“You ask too many questions. Just 'shh'.”
The loving couple stumbled through the garden and when they reached the massive oak, Henry sat Ally down onto a bench just in front of the looming tree.
“Okay,” he said, “Promise me you won't look.”
“Fine, I promise.”
“Okay, now I'm going to take my hand off of you, but you can't open your eyes until the blindfold in on you.”
“Blindfold? Henry. . . I.”
“Just do it.”
When he lifted his hand from her eyes, he saw that she kept her promise. Henry neatly placed a white blindfold onto her eyes and tied it loosely behind her head.
“Now,” Henry continued “Don't look until you hear a snap. Okay?”
“Okay.” Ally replied tilting her head. “So what's going on?”
There was no reply.
“Henry?” Again there was no reply.
She sat there for only a minute when she heard a snap. She hesitated before untying the the white cotton blindfold and looking out into the sunny day. She expected to see Henry's adoring face, but instead saw a small child in front of her. He held a red balloon by it's string and looked at her with interest.
“Here.” said the child handing her the balloon.
She took it in her hand and looked at him with a confused look. “What is this for?”
The child simply ignored her and walked away. A few seconds later, a small girl stepped up to her and handed her a blue balloon; then later, a small boy handed her a gold one. One after another; child after child, she received a balloon until a bundle of twelve in her hand.
Then from behind the oak, came Henry. He walked to her with a gentle, quiet stride and knelt next to her. “Ally.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled from it a silver needle. One that a stitching woman would use for her thread.
“Henry, what are you . . .” Ally asked. She sat dumbstruck and confused as she stared down at her lover who was bent to one knee.
“sh.” Henry told her.He plucked the golden balloon from her grasp and held the balloon up in front of him.
“Ally, put your hand under the string.” he said, gesturing to the balloon's string. She did as she was told and he pierced the balloon's golden skin. A loud 'pop' echoed through the air and bits of the golden plastic fell to the earth. Ally felt a bit of cold weight fall onto the palm of her hand, and when she saw what it was, she gasped.
“Ally,” Henry said. “Will you marry me?”
And as Ally took in what was happening, Henry folded Ally's open palm around the wedding ring, and kissed her. Their lips intertwined in their love with every sweeping motion that their heads created. Henry pivoted his neck to make the kiss fit perfectly between them, and when the kiss was done, he knew this was it. They had truly fallen in love again.
When their kiss was done, and their love declared in full passion, the two love birds gathered the balloons and set out for a picnic.
“I got everything ready. I swear this will be amazing.” Henry said to her.
Henry took a few steps towards the paved trail that weaved itself around the garden, but before he could get far, Ally took his hand in hers. “Henry, wait.”
Henry looked at her with a smile. “What is it? Something wrong?”
“Why . . . haven't you ever said it?”
She took a deep breath. “I love you.” she said, “Why haven't you told me you love me?”
Henry's smile disappeared. “What?”
She let go of his hand. “Henry, you ask me to marry you, and yet, you can't even tell me you love me?”
“Ally, its not -”
“Are you not sure about me? Is this whole marriage business just to see if I really love you?”
“It's not that, it's just that . . . I'm not ready yet.”
Ally looked down at the pavement. “Henry, I . . . I can't marry you if you can't say you love me yet.”
“You can't even say you love me!”
“And?” he paused “You know I do! It's just . . . that I'm not ready to say it yet!”
“Well, then I'm sorry Henry, I just can't marry you yet. As much as I want to, I just can't.”
She pulled his hand from his side, and placed the ring in it. “I'm sorry Henry. I just can't”
Ally left him to himself; gave him time to think over his decisions. Henry sat quietly on the bench in front of the great oak. It bellowed over him as the sky turned a dark blue and the purple curtains of dusk draped downward from behind the clouds; signaling the beginning of the night. Henry held the ring tightly in his balled fists. She said no. He thought to himself. The moment we kissed, I knew I was right. But, why did she say no? He thought long and hard about what Ally had told him.
“Henry, you ask me to marry you, and yet, you can't even tell me you love me?” Her voice echoed through his mind like a siren's song to a pirate. He asked himself “Do I really love her?” and kept coming down to the same conclusion. “I don't know.”
He rose from his seat and pulled the ring to his heart. “No, I'm sure of it . . .” He took a deep breath, “I love her.”
He ran to the end of the garden and to the side walk. He plucked a thin, red “Razor” cell phone from his pocket and flipped open the cover to the main menu. He pressed the speed dial “5” and rung up “Ally”.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Ally. I do want to marry you. I'll say it, I promise! Meet me at the Red Lobster down Pettingkin Blvd. I swear, I will say it.”
“Henry, are you totally sure about this? I -”
“Don't worry. Just meet me there.”
He shut the phone's two flip's together and placed the sleek phone in his pocket. “I love you Ally, I love you.” he whispered.
He shut his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he stepped forward and into the crosswalk. That's when the lights charged through his sides.
He heard the eerie snap of his bones and he felt the air escape from his lungs. He gasped and felt his arm snap into the concrete. His cheek scraped across the black street and peel back the skin on his face. He screamed as black, grooved tires pummeled over his body. By the time he saw the rear of the vehicle, the darkness had already started to cloud his eyes. The screech of tires rang through his ears as he saw the vehicle's driver exit from the gloomy piece of machinery.
He heard faint cries. Gestures towards him and the faint scream of a familiar voice. A female. A loved one. Someone he knew; but he could not tell who? Was it because of his memory? Why couldn't he remember who that was? He knew the voice. It didn't matter anymore. The black had taken over everything, and he could no longer hear or see. The next thing he knew, he was in a spiraling, deep sleep.
He felt the faint touch of finger tips running along the palm of his left hand. He attempted to open his eyesbut he found that he had only partial sight. A thick layer of blood had crusted over his left eyelid and held it securely shut. “God, what ha-” he felt a stinging roar of pain rush through him and he immediately shut his mouth.
“Henry, please. Don't talk.” He felt a faint squeeze on his left hand, and he knew that someone was with him. Someone he really cared about.
“Stop it. The doctor's said to keep you down and quiet.”
“Ally . . .”
“Henry . . . I said to stop.”
“Please . . .” He took a deep breath and squeezed the hand that was in his. “I . . . I love you.” She stared down at her lover, and began to feel the tears form in the sockets below her eyes. “Henry, I . . . I love you too.” She saw a firm smile replace the pain worn frown that plagued his facial expression. Comfort.
He said it, just one more time. “I love you.” and Death gained ownership of his soul. Ally felt as if she could see his essence leave his body. She felt the life in his hand weaken and the love in his heart, pour away. When the repetitive “beep” of the heart monitor began to siren, she wept into the side of her lover's body.
“I love you.”
Mankind's thorn bird song.