Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, June 15, 2019

WEP June 2019 Challenge: Caged Bird

 This month's WEP/IWSG writing challenge popped up in my e-mail, distracting me away from 'regular' writing. I was intrigued by the new collaboration between these two online writing communities, so here's my entry, a flash fiction following the theme (353 words). NOTE: This is a blog hop. Please see the links below and have fun reading where this month's prompt takes a variety of writers!

"Caged Birds"

Myrtle quick-stepped to keep pace with the tour guide leading their small group along the jungle trail. Myrtle was eager to see everything despite the humidity pressing down on her and George’s slow pace a few lengths behind.

Freed from their tiny cabin in the bowels of the cruise ship on an overnight excursion, they hiked along a mountain path to a nature preserve high in the Honduran hills. Here, parrots flew free, their red and turquoise and yellow feathers flashes of light in the intense green jungle. The birds wheeled through the trees, calling to each other. A few landed in pairs to preen.

As the light faded, the small group gathered at the nature preserve's open air patio to drink tea and talk about what they’d seen. Myrtle slipped her ice cubes into a large pot that held a fern. She wasn’t sure about drinking the water or the tea.

At dusk, the bus with no seat belts took everyone back to their hotel. Myrtle chattered all the way past the patio filled with red hibiscus and up the winding stairs to their second floor room, the windows open to the garden below.

“Did you think, George, you and me, that we’d ever see anything so wonderful as those birds?”

“It’s why we came,” said George. “That and to celebrate fifty years of marriage.”

“I know, George, but the parrots, they were so beautiful. I read somewhere that they live longer in a cage than they do in the forest.” She took George’s hand. “I read they mate for life.”

“And that’s like us, dear.”

She smiled. “Maybe we can get a parrot when we get home. Think of it. One of those beautiful parrots to wake us each day.”

That night, Myrtle slept close to George, surrounded by layers of mosquito netting, dreaming of parrots and the journey home. But in the morning, George did not wake. Myrtle sat beside him in the quiet of their room, holding his hand, now cold.

“Ah, George,” she murmured. “We got to see the parrots. They belong here. Not in a cage, George. Never in a cage.”

Full critique acceptable: 350 words.

Scarlet Macaws (Matthew Romack, Wikipedia)

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25 comments:

  1. Poignant and lovely. I am so very glad that both George and Myrtle got to see the parrots, living as shorter but more fulfilled lives. Never in a cage indeed.

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    1. Thank you. The challenge was a difficult one. I tried to show the 'cages' that we live in through images . . . but this couple did live with love and laughter.

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  2. Great that they got the see the parrots that they longed to see together, realizing all should fly free.

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    1. Interesting that while those beautiful parrots live some 35 years in the wilderness, research reports they live about 75 years in a cage. Would we trade the wilderness for a cage -- to live a longer life?

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  3. So glad they got to see the parrots but so hard for Myrtle to wake to find him gone. Lots of emotions in this one!

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    1. Not much is revealed of their 'real' life together, other than they were an OTA (older than average) couple, celebrating their 50th anniversary. Myrtle did walk ahead of George, implying his illness. In my imagination, they shared much before this last journey. Thank you for visiting!

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  4. So sad! But at least they saw those parrots fly free.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. This wasn't an easy prompt!

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  5. This is marvelous! I so enjoyed reading it because it shows how fleetingly life is. One minute you're enjoying something together and the next minute you're alone. I'm so glad they got the chance to visit the parrots before he took his final flight home into eternity.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Thank you, Pat. Your comment catches the essence of the story -- and as we all realize, sometimes sadly, life is all too fragile.

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  6. A tragic tale of how fragile life can be, even under the best of circumstances. Well done, Beth.

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  7. George and Myrtle. What an uplifting story. How lovely that they spent such a beautiful day together on George's last day. I'm pretty sure Myrtle will never cage a parrot.

    Thanks Beth for such a lovely story. I also enjoyed learning something about a place I haven't yet visited.

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    1. Hello, Denise. Thank you for visiting. Yes, my husband and I have had some marvelous travels, including hiking through a jungle just like the one in the story. Seeing parrots in the wild was unforgettable -- and it made me see caged parrots differently.

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  8. A lovely story with a sad ending.

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    1. Thank you, Sally, for stopping by. Actually, not so sad if they had 50 years of a good relationship! At least, so I hope.

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  9. A bit like humans. We live longer in our self made cages than free in the wilderness. Who's to say which is better? A poignant flash. Fifty years of marriage celebrated with a trip feels fitting.

    Thanks for sharing your work. Look forward to reading more of it.

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  10. Hi Beth - well I'm so glad they fulfilled that promise to themselves of seeing the parrots and Honduran mountainsides. Delightfully well told - 50 years is good to say the least - cheers Hilary

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  11. Thank you, Hilary, for stopping by. Where would our dreams be without promises to those we love?

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  12. Is it true that birds live longer in a cage than in the wild? Maybe but there's nothing like freedom when compared to a cage. So sad about George but I really like that Myrtle and George have been together a long time.

    Have a lovely day.

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    1. Research suggests that one type of parrot lives for 75 years in a cage, but only 35 years in the wilderness. This may differ by species. Certainly, birds are protected from most predators by living in a cage, but, like you, I'd rather live in the wild. Thank you for visiting!

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  13. This story is beautiful, and the ending brought a tear to my eye. Sad but lovely. I'm glad they got to see the parrots together.

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    1. Thank you, L.G., for your comment. I wasn't sure the emotion got through as it was pretty understated.

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  14. One last glorious adventure to top their marriage. I'm sorry he died, but happy they saw the birds. I'd love to see that. Well written.
    Nancy

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  15. Sad ending to a beautiful story - and marriage, I sense. I'm glad the parrots stayed free.

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  16. Sad twist at the end. But glad they were able to do a good thing together. Nice use of the prompt.

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