Once upon a time, a young boy walked along a trail in the woods near his home.
In the tangled roots of an old oak tree, he noticed a plain brown bird with a mangled wing. The boy was familiar with the woods, and knew that if the injured bird stayed where it was, it would be eaten by another animal looking for an easy meal.
He wrapped the bird in his shirt tails, and carefully carried her home. There, he nursed her back to health and showered her with attention and love.
By and by, the simple bird came to love the boy for saving her. She wanted to repay him, but knew there was no way to do so. For days, she hummed a melody in her head, composing a beautiful song for the young boy.
When it was finished, the bird sang for the boy as he fed her scraps from his dinner. The song was so incredibly beautiful, it brought the boy to tears. He knew, then and there, that despite the bird’s plain appearance, she was a gift to be cherished and adored.
The next day, the boy presented his special bird with a gilded cage, with all the amenities a privileged bird might desire. He invited his friends and family to hear her song, and reveled in the joy on their faces as they listened.
But soon, the boy grew jealous of the attention showered upon his bird. He was afraid that others may try to steal the bird, now that they knew of the joy she brought with her beautiful songs. So he locked her away in his closet, petting her in secret as he confessed his undying devotion.
At first, the bird flourished under the boy’s attention. But as time went on, and her wing healed, she longed for the days that she sailed among the clouds. Still, she sang beautiful songs for the boy to show her appreciation.
One day, as the boy cleaned the bird’s cage, she noticed the door to the closet was open. She flew outward, and found an open window.
The joy she felt as she flew was beyond words, beyond anything she could describe. As the bird glided, she hummed a new melody for her special boy. Eventually, she flew back to him, full of energy and life and passion. As she drew in a breath to sing him her new song, he clipped her wings and stuffed her gruffly into her cage, chastising her for flying away.
She wanted him to know that she always intended to come back, that her flying had nothing to do with her love for him. But all she could do was sing, and hope he understood.
Days, weeks, months, and years passed. The bird longed to fly above the trees, touching the clouds, but the boy kept her in her cage. Slowly, she forgot her beautiful songs. Instead, she chirped tonelessly as her boy handled her.
She wanted so much to sing for him, to show him how grateful she was that he saved her from certain death that day in the forest.
He gave her everything a caged bird could want, and yet… all she wanted was the freedom to stretch her wings and fly.
One day, the boy noticed that his special bird’s dull brown feathers were falling out. He tried to recall the last time she had sung for him, but the date eluded him. Finally, he understood that to love her was to let her be free to share her songs with the world.
He loosened the door on her cage and carried her to the forest in his trembling hands. Quietly, her bid her good-bye.
Moments passed as she regarded him with her sparkling brown eyes. As she finally took flight, she sang the most beautiful song for her captor, her savior, her love.
And night after night, she perched upon his window sill and sung him to sleep with a beautiful lullaby.