The escape of little bird


Image: Pixabay


‘Are you awake?’

I’m dreaming of Mamma. She is standing at the stove with her back to me. Her weight is on one foot, bare heels grubby with red dust, the ties of her apron dangling loose at her sides. The kitchen is golden with sunshine – golden floor, golden walls, golden Mamma. I smell cumin and coriander and the knife-sharp scent of lemons. My mouth begins to water. Mamma’s hair is falling from her scarf, a tail as brown as Pappa’s leaf tobacco.

Mamma turns from the pot. She’s speaking but her voice is muffled, as if she has a lump of bread dough in her mouth. I see her chin, her cheek, the tip of her blunt nose …

‘I said, are you awake?’

Pappa nudges my side. He’s leaning over me, the stubble on his cheeks making his skin look grey. His hair used to be brown, I think.

‘Come, little bird,’ he says, pulling the blanket from me and folding it. ‘They’re coming.’

Cold snaps me fully awake. My breath rises in clouds and my memories of Mamma rise with it. I only ever see her in my dreams – it’s as if she can’t come when I’m awake.

I pull on my boots. The lace has broken on the left one, so it only takes half the time to get ready. I get to my feet, totter towards the tent flap, heading for the stand pipe to rinse my face. Pappa takes my arm.

‘No time,’ he says. ‘Gather your things.’

Already I hear them. The vibrations tremble through my feet, judder my stomach which groans and rumbles as if answering a call.

‘Ready?’ he says.

He smiles but it’s only his mouth that moves.

I clutch my doll Sookie to me. The stitching is coming undone on one shoulder and I’m sure soon her arm will tear loose. But at night I’ve held her close to my mouth, whispered that I’ll still love her, even if she vanishes bit by bit and is lost to the camps.

I look up to Pappa, at his grey, worried face. ‘Where shall we go now?’ I say.

He takes my hand and we step out of the tent and into the chill morning.


27 thoughts on “The escape of little bird

  1. V. atmospheric, Lynn. Setting finely conjured. Especially like the knife-sharp scent of lemons. First there is the blissful fresh scent of a freshly sliced lemon, but swiftly following the feeling of lemon juice in a cut, and thus the image foreshadows the gnawing pain when the child acknowledges that the glowing scene of Mamma cooking is only ever a dream.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! Sometimes you see something in your mind’s eye very clearly, but aren’t sure if it’s coming across well on the page, so thank you – reassuring to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your opinion. Poor little bird, indeed. I tried to imbue a hint of optimism in the title – though on second thoughts, maybe it should have been ‘the flight of little bird’?


  2. I love the way you leave so many questions hanging. I particularly like the detail of her broken shoelace saving her time. It reminds me of the movie I saw last night – Stranger than Fiction. The guy put a single knot in his tie instead of a double,even though it was less fashionable, because it saved time in the mornings.
    If you’ve never seen it, it’s well worth checking out, because it stars Emma Thompson at her best – although when is she not?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, I’ve seen that – she’s an author narrarting someone’s life, isn’t she? I remember it being good fun, though haven’t seen it in years. I’ll look out for it.
      Thank you, Jane. I’m glad you liked the shoelace reference – I was trying to say a lot about Little Bird’s life and character in a small detail. Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is my favorite kind of flash fiction. It feels complete, but it could be a page torn out of a book. But not just any page. The only page you need. What it feels like to me, anyway. Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Walt. 🙂 That is a problem I find with flash fiction – because it’s only a snippet, but I’ve built up a story around it in my head, I’m always tempted to extend it, to write the rest of the story. Probably best as it is, as you say.
      Thanks so much for your kind feedback 🙂


      1. I think insofar as flash fiction can be an art form, that’s what it has to be. Most of what I’ve written and called “flash fiction,” I think, is just a super short story, in that it has a beginning and an end as is contained within itself. It doens’t have that sense of ‘so much more’ about it, or that flash that illuminates something bigger. Then again, I don’t know. Maybe I’m making up genre definitions in my head. I bet if you asked ten people what flash fiction is, you’d get 11 different answers. (I’m guessing at least one answer would change as someone realized they didn’t know either.)

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.