The Blue Bird of Happiness
Raana’u doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that her cage is made of gold. In the mornings, she collects the berries that fall to the bottom. And then, parched from the sweetness and bitterness, she drinks from the little dish where the water drops, filling the void to let her live another day.
Raana’u doesn’t know what it’s like to be alone. They arrive after breakfast. They float or crawl or glide to her cage. A snake named An sticks his tongue between the bars, to see if she is there. She is.
“What do you have left?” he asks.
Raana’u offers him berries and today, like every day, he snorts at the idea of a fantastic beast such as himself eating such a thing with little character.
“But An,” she protests, “I have it figured out. This thing, this red bulbous thing contains the waters of life. A nucleus of the ingredients that burst inside you.”
But An isn’t convinced. He is bored, actually, and longs to move on from this tragic conversation. Ah, but the little bird is a good bird. The sad situation of her existence is the only reason he hasn’t sampled her. But maybe one day. Maybe one day the little red bird and the snake will become one.
An leaves, lacking a proper goodbye. And for a moment, the sun hides behind a cluster of trees. It’s at this same time every day that the forest stills in anticipation. This is the only time Raana’u is alone. But here it comes, that moment when the sun peeks beyond the cluster and hits her directly, the beam tentacles caressing the bars. And for a moment, the light springs back to the world. The little red bird is now the sun. Raana’u stills in her cage and sings a song that was before her time. And the other animals come from the trees, from the dirt and the sky to enjoy the song of Raana’u.
“There you are!”
Raana’u is startled. She looks for the owner of the voice that wakes her from her meditation. On a branch just above the cage, another creature such as herself is perched. But he’s not exactly like her. His glossy feathers are blue and cover a husky body. His eyes are black and have a hint of mischief. But not like An. More like the drops of water in Spring.
“You startled me.”
He flies down, closer to her. “I’ve been looking for you.”
She feels exposed as she peers through the bars at this creature.
“What is that?” she asks.
And he knows exactly what she means. “I know. I feel it too. I was listening to your call. It’s for me, you know.”
She sighs. “I suppose it is.”
He flies down and lands on a branch close to her. “My name…”
“I know your name,” she says.
He looks at her with such sadness. “Why are you in there? Why don’t you come out.”
She doesn’t understand the question. The silence sends him away. And she is left wondering if she dreamed him up. The evening arrives and her eyelids clamp shut.
The morning drums and coaxes the sun to come out. One more time. Raana’u must live another day. The leaves gather the mist. The forest stirs with the vibrations of wings and birth and caution and hunger. They dance in harmony. They dance in violence. They dance to death.