“The Sparrow”

by Bud Smith

The Sparrow flew with a piece of blue string in his mouth. He wanted to make a nice nest inside a birdhouse with a lady sparrow that he dug very much. When he got to the birdhouse, he was heartbroken to see that the lady sparrow had already shacked up with another more accomplished bird.

         The blue string slipped out of the sparrow’s mouth, fell down into the mud.

          Inside the birdhouse he could hear the two of them chirping like mad. He was on the outside, dejected. It started to rain.

            Angrily, the Sparrow flew up over the trees, into the sky.

At that moment, a jet airplane zoomed overhead at supersonic speeds. The Sparrow watched it disappear, wished he could too- but couldn’t. This made him even more upset. The Sparrow beat his little wings like a maniac and chased after the jet- but of course, couldn’t catch up. He wished he was human so that he could pilot a machine that fast.

            The Sparrow was jealous and being that he was already feeling very inadequate, he did something very irrational to compensate.

He went and applied to flight school. He thought that becoming a jet pilot would make him happy. The administrators at the flight school didn’t even want him to sign up, all pilots being human, but they let him, perhaps because of anti-discrimination laws and the worry of a lawsuit.

It was hard. Flight school isn’t a very natural fit for a bird, especially one as slight as a sparrow. He had problems with his instructors, communication mostly. In the credit of the school, they had hired a translator who understood bird chirps. Still, there was a lapse of understanding and the sparrow was disadvantaged from the start.

          The flight suits weren’t right either. They had to be custom made, his feathers, wings and tail, made it very tough to get the suit to fit correctly.

            Of course, the oxygen mask didn’t seal because of his sharp protruding beak.

            Still, he hung in the best he could. But he didn’t make it through the first semester.

            See, part of his problem was that he thought he knew everything.

         “Evasive maneuvers? You come back to me when you’re being chased by a maniacal bluejay, we’ll talk evasive maneuvers then.” He chirped loudly.

            Just not a good fit. The Sparrow was fine with the paperwork- a very intelligent bird, but in truth, it wasn’t safe to let him pilot a jet. Everyone knew that but him. When he received the news that he was getting booted out of the program, it was the worst day of his life.

The Sparrow had something of a melt down. If he was human, he would have wound up in a facility in a gown and slippers glued to daytime television in a room with other troubled ones- monitored, counseled, watched closely. Here, take these pills and write down how you feel in this notebook. In an hour we’re all going outside to play basketball in the sunshine. It’s a beautiful day and life is beautiful too.

Instead, he flew into the trees outside the flight school and went into exile there. He didn’t make peace with the other birds in the trees. No, he isolated himself from them, having become very bitter, his anger unhealthy and destructive.

            For a year, the Sparrow made it his horrible mission to fly over the training jet that was parked on the runway. Repeatedly, he shit all over it. He chirped curses and twitched in a rage as he dive bombed the jet and sprayed it with his white hot shit.

            Then he waited for them to wash it, did it again.

            The other birds in the trees said, “What the fuck is wrong with that asshole?”

            “Not sure.”

            When they approached him, the Sparrow just screamed at them from his perch.

            “You’ll get invited to no barbecues that way!”

 Everyday, the Sparrow flew over the jet like that. That’s all he did. He didn’t do anything else with himself. He was fixated and driven to the point of madness by rejection.

            Then, one day, he realized what he was doing, how out of his character it was. He was ashamed of himself. At one time, he had been a descent bird. Even going so far as to help others build their nests with pieces of string, blades of grass, shiny misplaced objects. Building something,  he’d enjoyed that.  He looked back on his time in exile and was so embarrassed. Wasted time. A whole year of time pissed away. He cried. He tore out some of his feathers.

            Again, he left.

He managed to get himself into a community college where he started taking night classes. He paid for the college by flying important messages around. He lied and said he was a dove. They bought it. After two years, he got his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. With a few letters of recommendation, the Sparrow managed to get accepted into a very good architecture school. He graduated with honors.

            For a while, he lived in a small NYC apartment while working in midtown, but soon decided that he wasn’t fit for city life. He missed the country and was bored with the local dating scene, a bunch of annoying pigeons, constantly cooing.

            He decided to build himself a beautiful bird house in a glade not too far from where he had grown up. It was a large undertaking for him, but when he was done it was a fine home.

            As he sat inside for the first time, resting, he was surprised to hear a knock on his door.

            The Sparrow nudged open the door.

            There she was, a piece of blue sting in her mouth.

            He let her in.

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