Burdens

Grey stones made the blue feathers of the mother birds wings shine brilliantly in the morning sun. Thom had placed her on the stone as gently as he could while Bird chirped nervously on his shoulder. The juvenile had become increasingly frantic while Thom evacuated the bird to the ruins. Thom had never witnessed a bird hyperventilate and was afraid Bird was going to pass out.

Thom pulled a strip of fabric from his shirt and wrapped it carefully around Mothers wing and bound the broken wing. Healing wouldn’t be possible without immobilizing the joint or greater injury could be caused. Thom didn’t want to tell Bird that there was a possibility that the Mother’s wing would never heal enough to let her fly again.
Once the bandage was tightened there was nothing left for Thom to do but wait for her to awaken. He looked over the rolling hills and valleys and then turning around he saw the growing peak of a snow-capped mountain. He had not realized he was in alpine foothills but seeing the unarguable ridge above him and the cool breeze that descended the hillside and through his meadow convinced him that he wasn’t dreaming.

“We should get something to drink,” Thom said, his throat becoming increasingly dry. He hadn’t said those words in a year, since that night. Guilt hunted his soul like a pack of wolves, their teeth ready to rend whatever opportunity provided.
He winced as the memory played in his mind, unable to stop until the recall ran its course. It was worse this time. His shoulders were drawn down as if a weight had been tossed upon his shoulders. He gasped for breath under the crushing weight until the colors around him returned and

“Are you alright?” Bird asked. Thom heard the concern in his voice. He didn’t deserve compassion.

“It’s my burden to bear.” Thom whispered. Unconsciously wiping the sweat from his forehead. He could still feel his shoulders drawn down and his legs tightening as standing took more effort.

“Mother says that some burdens are necessary, carried because it must be. But most are carried because it's more comforting to carry something you don’t have to. Bird can’t carry much so it’s important to know the difference. Carrying too much makes it harder to fly.” He shrugged, “Bird is still learning.”

Thom could already feel the moment pass as his muscles uncurled. A cathartic relief hummed under his skin while the dark spectre of memory remained.

Bird looked at him in innocent concern. The pain faded, allowing Thom to attempt to reassure the juvenile that everything was alright.

They waited patiently together watching Mother with expecting patience. Before the sun set in the sky, Mother’s eyes fluttered before she tried to shake her bound wings. Bird sang out excitement before nuzzling into her warm feathers.

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