Everything was a blur around her, as in every other day. As a kiwi, she wasn’t able to see things further than the tip of her beak. But from experience she knew that it was dark. It was always like this since she was brought here.
From Kella’s exploration in the past days, her long beak would hit a hard fence when she walked straight. There were rocks in the area, hard and sharp and cold, like the freezing gusts of wind, soaring through the mysterious night when she was back in the forest. She lied down. She would rather rest for a while than walking into the rocks.
The faint wind brushed against her fur. She took a deep breath, it was the mix of sweat, coughs and scents of other animals no far from the dark house where she lives. She sighed. It was the same even at the middle of the night, without noises from animals, visitors and her breeder. She struggled to blow all the smell out from her nostrils, but it only resulted in breathing more in.
She closed her eyes. She had never seen the forest with her own eyes, but she could recall the smell of timidness, the fragrance of ferns, the freshness of mint and flowing water not far away. She had always been able to find her way in the dewy grass, through the heavy mist of the forest and return to her nest just before daybreak.
Nora, she thought. The name was echoing in her heart, again and again. Through the thick glass inside the dark house, seemingly she saw Nora gliding between the branches of an old tawa tree on her wings, saddened by the promise which Kella was unable to comply with. Slowly, the scene turned into her memory, the same tawa tree, a year ago.
She had been wandering in the forest, only hearing her feet tread, hearing the cracking twigs and leaves underfoot. It was on the roots of the old tree that she heard the loud whistling crescendo. It was a soft song soothing and sweet yet powerful, rich of smooth melody and rhythm. All notes were deliberate to the extreme exquisiteness, all bars were cut accurately to perfection. It was not just a pleasurable sound to Kella’s ears. It was something more than that. It was a satisfaction, a contentment to her curiosity, a trigger to the vent of her displeasure due to her bad eyesight, a fulfillment to her heart eager to experience the world. Spellbound, Kella jumped towards the sound.
At the same time the song stopped. Faintly in the blur, a tiny grey silhouette flew down, and there, in front of Kella, stood the tiny figure. A nightingale. Kella stared at it with amazement. Small wings, short beak. The beak. Kella lowered her head to have a closer look. Unbelievable, where the song came from. Nora the nightingale jumped forward and chirped in a friendly manner.
Far away from the house, a dog barked. Alerted, she raised up her head. The echo was reverberating. Soon the echo dissipated, everything was quiet and secluded again, as if nothing has ever happened. Kella pricked up her ears. Unlike in the morning, all the unfamiliar noises were taken place by an ever-lasting peace. Everything seemed normal, yet everything seemed to be driven by some abnormal and unknown forces. Fear was spreading fast in her body like an epidemic, and soon she was teemed with it. She uncontrollably shivered. Desperately and toughly, she searched in her mind for comforting memories.
It had been a full and exciting day with Nora. The small shadow was standing on her side. It was the same song and Nora’s voice was still sweet, Kella found in its melody an indescribable sadness.
“When will you come back?” She murmured softly, so soft that Nora thought she said that to herself.
Nora’s song stopped. “I don’t know. Africa was a long way from here.”
Kella snuggled against Nora. Tears slid down on her cheeks. She stared blankly at the blurry peach-colored sunset.
She walked back to her nest, alone.
It was nighttime. She rested in her nest, sensing darkness and coldness taking up the forest. Suddenly, she heard chaos. Chaos everywhere. Crows flapping their wings. Animals fleeing. There was also an unfamiliar smell that she did not know. “There is a kiwi bird over there!” The voice was excited. She struggled to stand up. Footsteps. More and more footsteps getting closer and closer to her nest. She felt a prick on her back. She tried to walk away, but she got dizzy. She had to sit down. She staggered for a few steps and lost her consciousness.
Kella wasn’t getting better. She shivered even more. She crawled into a ball on the side of the glass, facing the direction of the moon. The moon looked smoky and yellow behind the scudding clouds. It had no brilliance to offer, blending into the gloom of the night.
All of a sudden, Kella saw an obscure figure flying into the dark house. What was it? She wondered. Is it the feeder, is it a visitor, or was it another creature that I would never be able to see? She sensed the shadow coming closer and closer. She shrieked.
Soft and gentle, she raised her head. Slowly, she calmed down.
As the first note came out, Kella knew it. She always knew that she would come back. She listened to the familiar song in inexplicable joy and agony. Nora. She had waited her for so long. She had dreamed about her in the past year. She had prepared for the day, yet she had never wanted Nora to see her in the dark house, being stranded here for the rest of her life.
Nora paused; it was to confirm if Kella was still alive. Kella tried to stand up hard, but she was too weak. She wanted to show her presence to Nora, but no sound came out from her beak. It had been a long time since she last ate something. The song started for a second time. It was louder than usual, with a deep grief and sorrow. Kella froze. It was too loud for Nora. It would damage her voice forever. The notes cut into Kella, making her heart bleed. “I’m here! I’m alive!” She yelled in her heart, but no one seemed to know. “Stop!” The song resonated in the middle of the night. It was like a dirge, full of lament, reminding people of night, of death.
Nora’s song continued. It was close to the end. Usually it got slower and softer, this time, however, it did neither. The closer it was from the end, the louder, the sharper it was. The moon came out from the clouds. It seemed that its florescence and dominance could not be covered by the grey clouds anymore. The illuminated sky was starless, as if the stars were ashamed to stay with the brightness of the moon and ensconce themselves behind the clouds. The great melody finally came to a climax, the whole world stopped for the last note, and Kella held her breath.
The note never came out.
Nora opened her mouth, but the only thing coming out was blood. She had sung loud for too long. It costed her her life.
A few drops of blood hit the floor. Then it was the Nora’s lifeless body.
Kella paralyzed. But then she stood up. It was her last bit of energy. The world seemed to be not so blurry. Kella ran towards Nora’s body, fueling herself with her last drop of life.
She ran onto the glass that separated her from the rest of the world, the forest, Nora.
Her world turned black.
[ It was in the morning. The breeder walked towards the dark house. There was a delicate nightingale’s body with a few drops of brownish liquid by its side. It was too small to be noticed. The breeder stepped right on it and walked into the house. The furry thing inside the glass fence was not moving. She took a closer look. It was the kiwi bird that she had been breeding for a whole year, there seemed to be a smile remaining on her face. The breeder picked up her phone emotionless: “Hi mate, kiwi 008’s dead. Yes. Yes. Can you please help to bury it? The pot next to the dark house will be fine.” ]
Cover Photo by Ari Spada on Unsplash