Being stuck in thick black dress pants and a high neck blue long sleeve was not Amelia’s ideal attire for a sunny afternoon, but having a job and going to college led to lengthy tiresome days with sporadic hour long breaks that she was determined to take advantage off, no matter how warm or humid the air was.
Amelia wandered through the sea of maples in a park that sat in between work and home. The sweat was pooling at the small of her back and her attempts to find somewhere to sit became desperate.
Fortunately, an old rickety park bench popped into view. Its white paint was chipped and short spiky splinters stuck out in every angle. Long nails, which were clearly visible through chunks of wood that had been relentlessly picked away, were rusted and worn to a warm orange color.
The untrustworthy nature of the bench did not deter Amelia and she gave it the benefit of the doubt, exhausted and ready to relax.
She clumsily sat down, earning a squeak of protest from the wood beneath her. Her purse dropped from her shoulder and spilled out into the grass. Her head fell back with a groan and she awkwardly rolled off the bench to her knees.
Amelia grasped the bag and shoved its contents back in with remnants of freshly picked grass. She zipped it up and with a firm hold, lifted it onto the bench, where it clunked and settled.
Taking a deep breath, Amelia pulled herself back up to sit, dropped her head, and shut her eyes. A noisy exhale escaped and finally, she let her mind roam.
School was the first thing that rushed to her thoughts. She carefully dove into every subject and assignment she had today. Being a business major had been the logical choice, but it really wasn’t that interesting and as much as Amelia needed to review her school day, she glossed over it for another time.
Next, work plagued her mind and, in her opinion, wasn’t much better than school. Typically, she stuck to a static schedule, but Amelia had a slight aversion of making people unhappy and developed quite a struggle saying no; consequently, shifts she would never actually want to work layered up on her already rare free time.
A strange noise sounded to the left of Amelia. Her posture straighten abruptly and her droopy eyes snapped open to reveal an innocent looking bird.
Amelia scrunched her face up, narrowing her vision, and brushed a hand through her hair. Then, by the rustle of the bird’s wings, the tiny creature appeared in front of her.
It was a sparrow.
Her head darted back and forth, checking for any passerby that would catch this incredible moment. The bird was only a few inches from her and didn’t fly away at her sudden movements. In fact, it stayed motionless with its beady little eyes pointed directly at her.
The curious bird cocked it head to the side.
Amelia’s eyes widened. “What is happening?” she whispered.
The bird took a playful hop forward and let out a happy string of chirps.
She raised her eyebrows. “You are surely the craziest bird I have ever met.” She smiled. “How are you not worried? I could hurt you!” The end of the sentence broke off in a sharp tick, Amelia suddenly becoming conscious of the fact she was yelling at a bird.
Paying no attention to her frantic realizations, the sparrow jumped another step closer.
Amelia was baffled. This strange phenomenon took her whole attention, detaching her from reality. She was certain she could sit there for hours just staring at the little bird, but because she was so in tune with her own thoughts, she nearly fell from the bench in fright when a snarling, teeth bared, massive canine pulled its leash taut.
The owner, despite being a tad wobbly on his feet, managed to hold back his pet, but the dog held up quite a fight, thrashing forward with spit spraying onto Amelia’s pants.
Normally, she would be quite disgusted with the dog’s out of control slobber, but at that point, all she could do was stare in shock.
“Sorry ‘bout that miss,” mumbled the older gentleman, who was still struggling to keep his barking buddy at his feet. “He doesn’t much like birds.”
Amelia nodded weakly at the man, not giving him much thought, and quickly focused back on the smaller animal.
The bird did not seem frightened by the dog, but in fact showed piercing eyes of a familiar inquiring expression.
Suddenly, just as Amelia was about to shoo the small creature away to safety, it flew away itself, but not without one last tilt of the head.
“Such a lucky bird,” she muttered, her eyes following the soaring sparrow. She watched as it rejoined others and flew far, far away into something unknown.
Amelia was wrapped up in her thoughts.
The raging dog disappeared. The soft breeze chilled her bones. A noisy silence filled the air.
Her temple poured on overdrive and she dropped her head into her worn out hands. “If only I could fly. If only I could…” she trailed off, shaking her head.
Amelia had always wanted to fly. When she was younger, and even a bit now, she desperately wished for her own Peter Pan to come and take her away. She didn’t even have to go to Neverland, just to the sky. If she could just soar through the air, she could get away, if she could just be like a bird.
“They just make it happen,” Amelia said.
It was a simple statement, but she looked up from her hands with a different glint in her eyes. A small smile rose to her face and she glanced up seeing even more delicate fliers.
Birds. Incredible creatures.
A ringing in the distance broke her out of her daze. It was her cellphone. Amelia reached for her purse and plopped it on her lap. It was a massive thing loaded with papers, notes, and useless junk.
Amelia finally touched the smooth surface and frantically pulled the out phone worried that it would stop ringing. She really did need to clean out her purse.
“Lee! Hey! Are you still coming over tonight? I really need your help again!” said Mary, a friend from school who needed a little too much help with her coursework.
Amelia opened her mouth, but hesitated. “Actually,” she began shyly, “is it possible to help you another night?”
“It’s due Monday, but I’m leaving for the weekend, so no.” Mary didn’t hide her disappointment.
“Okay,” Amelia paused and looked to the sky, where birds still flew through the free air, “I’m really sorry, but I won’t be able to make it tonight.”
“Are you sure?”
Her eyes were still set on the sky. She took a deep breath in and slowly let it out. “Yes, I’m sure.”
Amelia was not the first to hang up. In fact, she held onto her phone for a few moments of cloudy silence, eyes looking up.
When her vision dropped down, her screen was black, and the shadow of a grin appeared on her face. Amelia stood up from the bench and slid her bag on her shoulder. She started down the grassy path towards home with casual and slow strides, leaving her car behind.
She would come for it tomorrow.
This story is quite a throwback. I wrote the original version in 2011, my senior year of high school, in my independent study creative writing class.
This one is spruced up a bit because wow, that was almost seven years ago…
This story will remain one of my favorites forever because it’s taken directly from me. It’s actually the inspiration to my first tattoo (that I also got when I was 18). I have the words ‘aspire’ on my right side mid-back with lots of birds flying around it.
Fun fact; my name also means small bird in arabic.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this short story of pushing for your dreams and the freedom to achieve them. It’s always a good reminder to have and one I continue to need.