The Pigeon (Winner Lee County Aspiring Authors Contest)

Rolando Justo

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The bus left us in front of the gates of Jardins del Real, in Valencia, Spain.

Our first stop would be the Gulliver, a statue of Jonathan Swift’s famous character.  Gulliver reclines in a circle, and visitors can climb all over him.

“I’m so excited!” Megan said. She sat next to me, so close that I could hear her heartbeat, or was it only mine? I don’t remember.

Megan hugged me from behind.  I’m sure her arms were wrapped around me so she could see the park map better. As she touched me, my breathing became heavier.

“Megan. Space, please.” I looked into her brown eyes over my shoulder. “You know when you do that it makes me feel weird.”

“But you smell so nice,” she replied.  She blinked slowly.

My temperature rose.  “You smell nice too… ”

She smiled at me.

“Now get off!”

She let me go while laughing.

Walking to the Gulliver we saw the fountains, the plants, and all the people that gave life to the park.

Megan grabbed me by the arm and screamed “Look!” and pulled me to a man blowing huge soap bubbles. She was fascinated, and she chased the bubbles, never able to catch them on her fingertips.

I wanted to show her my favorite spot in the Gulliver.

“There are a lot of people here,” she said as she took my hand.

I remember it made me laugh because she looked lost in the crowd. To comfort her I said, “Don’t worry. I’m here with you.”

We hiked together to the top of the tower between Gulliver’s legs. I liked that place because a big chunk of the park along with the town was visible from the observation platform.

“So, what do you think?”  We ascended the last few steps above Gulliver on his back.

“Woah.” This was Megan’s commentary when she looked in every direction. “What is that over there?” she exclaimed looking in the distance.

I followed the trajectory of her fingertips, again. “That is our next stop, the City of Arts and Sciences.”

She turned to me and said “That’s pretty too.”

We looked at each other, and we stayed there for the eternity of six seconds.

What’s going on? I thought to myself.

She leaned closer to me. “Where is your brother?”

I came back to reality, and said, “Oh, yeah. Where is he?”

And luckily, he appeared with three drinks.

“Thanks. I’m thirsty,” Megan said while opening the fresh Coke.

We rented bicycles, and traveled to the City of Arts and Sciences, and we looked at every last thing, the architecture, the events, the beauty of it.

By dusk, we returned to the gates to await the bus.  Beside Gulliver’s head, we saw a pigeon lying in the grass, without moving.

“Hey, this pigeon looks sick.” Megan said it with worry.

I suggested we try to help the pigeon.  We tried to feed him some bread and Coke. He seemed interested, but he refused to eat the bread.

His head rolled back in my palm, and his feathered body kicked.  His eyes closed.

We both stared at the suffering bird in my palm. The sun was setting, casting an indigo glow over the field.  The temperature dropped a few degrees.

“He’s in pain,” I said.

The bird kicked.

“Ok, do it.” Megan looked at me with the same brown eyes, now black.

I walked down Gulliver’s right side, through the dark and cold. I covered the pigeon with my hands, giving it my heat. By the time I reached Gulliver’s hip, I knew what I had to do.

I kept walking until I reached the woods.

The pigeon’s breathing was heavier, and his bird body squirmed in my hand in partial paralysis.

I couldn’t help but remember the poem Death of a Toad.  A small toad clipped by a lawn mower was flipped to the edge of the grass, eyes wide, as life drained from its body.  That tragedy and the reverence for life was in my hands, in this pigeon’s slow and painful death.

I lay his anguished body on the leaves, and I lifted a stone over my head.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

And in less than a second I threw the boulder with all my strength and smashed the pigeon to the earth. I did not hear a bird sound, and only the blood that stained the leaves and my shoes were proof of what I had done.

The sky fell as heavy on me as the boulder over the poor pigeon. Nothing had changed, though.  Gulliver still slept, and Megan was waiting for me, as always, this time by the gates.

I wiped the blood from my shoes by raking a patch of grass.  As I walked to Megan, my hands remained at my sides.

Megan ran over to me and asked, “Is the pigeon ok?”

I saw her face, she was concerned for me and a little sad for the bitter taste after the sweet day we had.

I lied.

“When I got to the forest, the pigeon jumped off my hand and flew away.” I lied for the first time in my whole life.

“Really?” She was surprised.

It felt like a stab in the stomach, but I said with a fake smile, “Yeah.”

She gave me a hug while she squeaked with joy. This time, I hugged her back as tightly as I could. Another thought that scared me appeared.

Sometimes lies are good.

“I thought you didn’t like hugs,” Megan whispered close to my ear.

“I don’t.” I replied.

 

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