The Birds of Blue are commonly mistaken for the Bluebird of Happiness. The mistake is easy and obvious, and happens almost as commonly as the creatures themselves come around – which, thankfully, is not very often. They travel in pairs, the Birds of Blue; they gravitate toward people who are too unrepentantly filled with joy of life and living, of being young and carefree and vital in a world that is often hard and grinding.
Two by two, the Birds of Blue find these people, and in the manner of any bird, they shit on what those people hold dear.
Not in the literal sense, mind you. The Birds of Blue show up and roost around the house of joyful people, and their milk goes too quickly sour, their yogurt spills, their bread becomes infested with weevils. They pick holes into all the fruit, and they tease cats into unused corners near windows most often left open in warm weather to let breezes through, until the cats in their irritation mark the area with their urine and leave it to grow fetid. They fly against windows to frighten babies. They knock down the laundry from the line. And should the joyful victim remain unrepentant, they will soon find themselves set upon by the creatures, attacked.
Only when one has been made miserable do the Birds of Blue move on – unless, by very rare chance, a Bluebird of Happiness appears to combat the problem.
The Bluebird of Happiness sings sweetly outside a baby’s window. It coaxes cats away from the fresh bottles of milk left upon the doorstep, and it pecks through the stems of the fruit highest in the tree or deepest in the bush so that it rolls upon the ground as sweet windfall. It plucks up the windblown woodtrash that fetches up against the house and in the flower garden to use for nesting.
One appeared to a woman, once, as the Birds of Blue were setting upon her, beginning to pluck at the sleeves of her gown and peck at the skin underneath. Her arms were outstretched, fluttering to try to shake them from her wrists, when the Bluebird found perch upon her elbow. It sang out, as the Birds of Blue squalled. It sang out, and she went quite still, singing that single sweet note back to the bird – a note of hopeful yearning.
Destruction and joy warred against each other for that woman, and fixed between them she went still, flesh frozen into wood, and the birds along with her. We make the carvings of her still, to honor the struggle between unrepentant joy and heartless cruelty – and to remember that a single bit of joy is more than a match for twice as much cruelty, for a heart that will strive for it.
This was written as part of Days of Grey, a daily writing project in which anyone can participate. Just go follow the page. A prompt image will be posted to it each day throughout the month of February, meant to inspire bright, warm, happy fictions – or poetry, haikus, memoir essays, visual poetry – anything to get the mind focused on warmth and light and joy.
The Day Three image prompt comes from 4nitsirk on Flickr via a Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons license. http://www.flickr.com/photos/4nitsirk/3279601932/ Per the license, if you repost/reshare the photo, please keep the attribution intact.