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Dawn stealthily approached. It was one of those days where the misty
clouds hang oppressively low, shrouding the obscure sanctuary from sight.

David trudged solemnly along the narrow path. The monotony of the
autumn leaves piled on top of each other caused his shoulders to droop.

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The dreariness of routine overwhelmed his stream of consciousness as
he neared towards the familiar cage. Hues of red and green, blue and white
protruded through the narrow vista between the bars, an invitation to come
inside and look.

David took a few quick breaths. His head was throbbing with pain. With
his eyes forced open and his forehead etched with wrinkles from years of the
same worries and frustrations, he tried to work through the pain as he always
did. Pausing for a second, he reluctantly transfixed his focus on the task at
hand.

Digging furiously into the bag of feed, the familiar feel of grains
rubbed against his hand and seeped through his fingers. Every attempt seemed futile, the longer he
reached inside, the less he could draw out and the searing of red-hot lava
rising in his chest became more and more pronounced. 

The incessant chirps became no more as he managed to grasp the last
handful from bag. An array of chains sealed the cage from the external world
and the silence of the sanctuary was perturbed by the horrendous rattle of
David’s keys, each rattle adding fury and tension.

Extending his hand outwards was a menial task. However, today, this
daily offering seemed peculiar to the residents of the cage. It was like a
familiar intruder had broken into their world. Lapsing back and forth, moving
his hand in and out did nothing to stop them from aggregating in a remote
corner, fluttering their spectacular wings with alarm. Their eyes became ripe
with fear, their dusty plumage giving off the sensation of loss and confusion.

“Did I do something wrong?” he
thought.

Walking further in, stepping amongst the cocktail of dirt and
droppings, he surrendered himself to the bars. Blades of light penetrated the
abyss while he tilted his head and fixated his fervent gaze towards the
distance.  Such daily toil had forged
within him an elastic perception of time with the past, present and future
intermingling in his mind. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift into
the depths of the unconscious…

***

The violin was crafted from mahogany oak; its mellow and sonorous tune
filled the sanctuary of David’s room with bliss. Lush plants were aligned at
the windowsills and sunflowers bowed to the sun as it conducted its daily
revolution about the Earth, illuminating David’s haven. The occasional moments of silence where
punctuated by a harmony of notes, flowing off the bow with ease.

“David!”
shouted his father…”Come check these out”.

“Pretty, ay?”
he insisted. “They could sell for a few bucks”.

David hesitated to protest. “Perhaps
after…Dad?”
he replied “I’ve got to perfect my rehearsal for fete”.

“Come and I’ll show you how to feed them!” he fired back, almost oblivious to his son’s response.

“I’ll show you the tricks of my trade”

An uncanny silence consumed the room as the violin found its way back
into its case. Unbeknownst to David, this would be his very last rehearsal…

The coming of age brought with it the knowledge of the family
enterprise. Like a one-way street, David’s musical prowess seemed like a roadblock to his father’s entrepreneurial vision.

He felt caged. He wanted to escape but ever so slowly his passion
eroded, wilted and withered, succumbing to the persuasion of his father the
salesman.

***

In his imagination, standing in his room again, he peered outside the
window toward the edge of a foreign land. The turquoise water reflecting the
patterns and stories of the clouds – shades of blue met with uncountable tones
of green from the trees. The sand was soft between his toes as he steadily
breathed in the salty air of the sea that was carried by the light breeze.

As he enjoyed this moment of solace, a mighty crash of the ocean
shattered the stillness of his thoughts and then slowed down to greet him at
the shore. He collected shells and held them against his ears – each shell harboured a different type of beach, and a different world
of emotions. He closed his eyes and felt the adrenaline from the wind again as
it surpassed the boundaries of his imagination.

He wondered how he let himself lose sight of the world by neglecting
the most important feature of his happiness – the sounds of nature herself.

***

The merciless shower of solar rays warmed his already half-baked face.
Staring blankly out through the aperture of the cage seemed like an
overwhelming task. Pausing one last time to catch his breath, an invisible
force compelled him to look toward the other direction.

They had left. What remained were the half-eaten remnants of seed and
grain. There were no chirps, no colourful hues and no looking back. The
primrose path to their escape was laced with the fresh odour of droppings,
having relieved themselves of their burdens.

The ambient sense of fear seemed to evaporate as he ran toward the
open cage door. Almost inviting him, it embraced his frustration.

David had always wondered why the birds stayed in the same place when
in fact they could fly anywhere.

Then he asked himself the same question

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