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I want to tell you how my mother died trying to save her beloved bird from a house fire. Should I share with you how, at five years old, I was trapped in the same room and watched as my mother cooed to the bright yellow feathers that had ceased to breathe while I cowered at her feet? You might not want to know that. It might make you uncomfortable or, at the very least, sad. I don't like to make you sad. It makes my skin tingle and my chest tight like when the fireman found me and carried me outside and fed oxygen into my lungs like a mother bird feeding her young. I knew by the way he held me tight, his heartbeat felt through the heavy coat that protected his skin from the flames that my mother had chosen poorly. I want to tell you how when the nurses tended my burns, gently soothing the tender, pink skin and cooing to me in that sing-songy way that was supposed to calm, I wanted to shrink deep inside myself and hide. I want you to hear that my mother returns to me each night. She stuffs me inside the small bird cage, saying everything will be okay as, one by one, bright yellow feathers sprout from my decades old scars that run down my arms and back like ripples of spilled paint, making me into all my mother wished me to be.

Story by:

Lisa Heidle

21 August 2015