Moondance; Celebrating Creative Women The Owner and the Bird
by Sarah Zimmer

 

About eight years ago there was a man who considered himself an animal rights activist. He believed that people and animals should lead egalitarian lifestyles, especially owners and their pets. The man was having a very hard time in his life and he began to visit a local pet shop to help raise his spirits. At the pet shop there was a bird, and she was very sad because she was lonely. The man noticed the sad bird and the bird noticed the sad man and they began to sing sorrowful, but heart filled, songs together. They both found their time together very satisfying and meaningful. After almost a year the man decided to purchase the bird because he cared about her and they made such beautiful music together.

Because THE OWNER believed that he was an animal rights activist and because he said that owners and their pets should lead egalitarian lifestyles, THE OWNER decided to not keep the bird in a cage. THE OWNER felt very good about himself for this decision because he knew that many owners kept their pet birds in cages. THE OWNER knew that this made him a good owner.

THE OWNER's initial troubles had passed and he and the bird didn't sing together as much anymore. Often THE OWNER would have a hard day at school or at work and he would come home and yell at the bird. The bird's feelings would be very hurt and she would cry. THE OWNER would yell some more, sometimes for days, or ignore the bird when she cried. The bird would continue to cry through THE OWNER's outbursts. Eventually, THE OWNER would forgive the bird for causing his troubles and they would make up and sing meaningful yet sorrowful songs together again. THE OWNER didn't see anything wrong with this pattern because he didn't do anything, he just yelled. And THE OWNER didn't keep the bird in a cage and this meant that he led an egalitarian, enlightened lifestyle with the bird.

Dragon

"Dragon"
By Jonathon Bowser

One day, after the bird had lived with THE OWNER for about three years THE OWNER yelled and screamed at the bird, and the bird, instead of crying, squawked and quacked and crowed back at THE OWNER. THE OWNER was stunned. This was so very unlike the bird, and THE OWNER didn't like it, but he was confident the bird would stop responding this way soon. THE OWNER even apologized and he and the bird again sang their sorrowful yet meaningful songs together. The next time THE OWNER had a bad day and came home and yelled at the bird, the bird again squawked and quacked and crowed.

Eventually THE OWNER apologized and they sang their beautiful yet sorrowful songs together. This pattern of THE OWNER screaming and the bird squawking and their singing sorrowful songs together continued for about two years. About 1.5 years ago THE OWNER's life had settled down and he was more successful financially and no longer had to worry all the time. THE OWNER quit yelling at the bird. He didn't like her squawking back. He didn't like how he felt when the bird squawked at him. He also thought it might be fun to sing with the bird instead of arguing with the bird. The bird agreed. THE OWNER and the bird began to sing together. Their songs changed and although they were still loving songs, they were no longer sorrowful songs. THE OWNER and the bird enjoyed each other's company in a way they had never done so before. This lasted for about one year and it was the happiest time of the bird's entire life.

About six months ago THE OWNER entered another very stressful time in his life. He worried all the time. He didn't feel very secure at work and he had many responsibilities, like a large house payment and a large car payment. THE OWNER began to again yell at the bird. The bird would occasionally squawk and quack and crow back, but often she would instead cross her wings and turn her back on THE OWNER. THE OWNER knew that he was in the right because he didn't do anything. He had heard of lots of people who had abused their pets by hitting them or starving them. And THE OWNER knew that he was an enlightened pet owner. Look at how he had not put the bird in a cage and led an egalitarian lifestyle with the bird. THE OWNER didn't do anything.

The bird became very lonely and realized that she was more lonely than before she had an owner. This depressed her because she felt lonelier when she was with THE OWNER than when she was with no one at all. One day when THE OWNER yelled at her, the bird was no longer able to shut down and hide her emotions. She just wanted to be loved. The bird began to cry. During the many hours of her crying THE OWNER tried to justify his behavior by explaining that he was an egalitarian pet owner and he didn't do anything. Finally, after many hours that the bird cried, THE OWNER apologized. The bird wanted so much to just be loved that when THE OWNER invited her to perch on his shoulder and sing with him, she tearfully, greedily accepted. The songs they sang together were beautiful songs, meaningful songs, yet sad and sorrowful. And although the next morning the bird had a great sense of relief, by the next evening the bird was troubled and had a heavy heart. The bird realized that although by singing their songs together, she and THE OWNER had made up, nothing wrong in their relationship had been resolved. Furthermore, it disturbed the bird greatly that she and THE OWNER had returned to singing songs of sorrow instead of songs of joy.

Whenever THE OWNER would see the bird he would remind her that he never did anything and that he didn't put her in a cage which meant that he was an enlightened pet owner. However, THE OWNER's confidence in himself and his worth began to slip. And whenever the bird would see THE OWNER she would become very pensive and occasionally cry uncontrollably. It seemed as if all the confidence and self-esteem that the bird had developed was slipping away. Finally THE OWNER felt so bad about how the relationship with the bird was going that he opened a window wide and took out its screen so the bird could fly away if she chose. But he hoped that she wouldn't notice. He knew that she wouldn't fly away because, he told himself, he hadn't done anything.

HAPPY ENDING #1 The bird noticed the open window. But because she hadn't lived without THE OWNER in over seven years, she was afraid to fly away. And because the bird had lived in a pet store before living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And because THE OWNER had shouted and yelled at her so much, and called her stupid so much, the bird was convinced that he was right, and she was afraid to fly away. And because she had been so isolated from other birds and felt so alone, especially when living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And even though the bird did not live in a metal birdcage, she did live in a huge house that was very different than the world outside the window. The bird lived in a cage of fear. So instead of immediately flying away, every day the bird would perch slightly closer to the window to try to experience the world beyond the window. After a long while the bird perched on the windowsill. Other birds began to notice the bird and began to chirp to her. One noticed how nervous she seemed and encouraged the bird to take just a tiny step outside of the window. The bird stuck one foot out of the window, and although she liked the fresh air on her leg, she became scared and pulled her leg back in and flew far into the house, as far from the open window as she could. But the encouraging bird came back the next day and for every day after that encouraging the bird to come back to the windowsill. After a few weeks the bird again approached the windowsill and realized that she had a friend; a fellow bird who would sing with her, and chirp to her, and support her when she was down. The bird didn't need THE OWNER anymore and didn't need any owner. The bird didn't want any owner who wouldn't support her sense of self or would hurt her even if he didn't do anything. And although the bird was still very scared of being independent, and although the bird would still miss THE OWNER sometimes and would return every so often to see if THE OWNER had changed, and although the bird's heart was going to eventually be broken when THE OWNER no longer left the window open with the screen off, the bird escaped her cage of fear and left the big house and THE OWNER through the window that very day.

HAPPY ENDING #2 The bird noticed the open window. But because she hadn't lived without THE OWNER in over seven years, she was afraid to fly away. And because the bird had lived in a pet store before living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And because THE OWNER had shouted and yelled at her so much, and called her stupid so much, the bird was convinced that he was right, and she was afraid to fly away. And because she had been so isolated from other birds and felt so alone, especially when living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And even though the bird did not live in a metal birdcage, she did live in a huge house that was very different than the world outside the window. The bird lived in a cage of fear. Although flying away seemed very temping it also scared her to death. The bird loved THE OWNER very much, and although he hurt her feelings, the bird knew that she would miss him. As THE OWNER continued to scream at the bird on a nearly daily basis, the window became more and more tempting to the bird. The bird began to perch on the windowsill. The bird wanted to know what the world outside the window was like, and she also wanted THE OWNER to know that she was considering the open window a good possibility.

One day after THE OWNER was especially harsh, the bird perched on the windowsill and began singing a song of flight. THE OWNER backed down and said that he knew he had hurt the bird's feelings, but that there was nothing he could do about it and that she should just fly away. The bird felt that THE OWNER was avoiding taking personal responsibility for action and she crossed her wings and squawked and quacked and crowed back at THE OWNER.

Finally, when THE OWNER kept insisting that it was too late, the bird turned her back on THE OWNER and began making plans for her life beyond the window. The next morning THE OWNER announced that he was going to call the Humane Society to see if anyone there could help him. The bird was no longer very trusting of THE OWNER and would not face him except to squawk at him some more.

About a week later THE OWNER spoke to a gentleman at the Humane Society who understood THE OWNER's problem very well. Although THE OWNER was an animal rights activist he still didn't treat the bird very well. When THE OWNER would say that he hadn't done anything, that he hadn't broken the bird's wings or bruised her beak or poorly fed the bird, the gentleman from the Humane Society reminded THE OWNER that he hadn't done anything except break the bird's heart. THE OWNER continued to visit with the gentleman from the Humane Society. As his visits continued, he began to treat the bird much better. The bird and THE OWNER began to sing beautiful songs together. One of the things that THE OWNER learned from the gentleman from the Humane Society was that if THE OWNER wanted to keep his relationship with the bird safe, he had to keep the window open. The bird was much happier once THE OWNER began to treat her better. She also appreciated that there was an always-open window in THE OWNER's home.

When THE OWNER would go to work, the bird would fly out the window and make friends with other birds. At night, the bird and THE OWNER would sing happy, beautiful songs together. And the bird always knew that if things again went wrong, she could still fly out the window. Now that she had friends, leaving didn't seem like such a scary option. The bird was content, however, now that THE OWNER was treating her appropriately, to stay at their home.

SAD ENDING The bird noticed the open window. But although the bird would occasionally sit on its windowsill or even venture out for a short spin in the fresh air while THE OWNER was at work, she would not leave. Because she hadn't lived without THE OWNER in over seven years, she was afraid to fly away. And because the bird had lived in a pet store before living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And because THE OWNER had shouted and yelled at her so much, and called her stupid so much, the bird was convinced that he was right, and she was afraid to fly away. And because she had been so isolated from other birds and felt so alone, especially when living with THE OWNER, she was afraid to fly away. And even though the bird did not live in a metal birdcage, she did live in a huge house that was very different than the world outside the window. The bird lived in a cage of fear. The bird never allowed THE OWNER to find out that she knew of the open window and THE OWNER continued to scream and shout at the bird.



The author of this story, Turning Bird Princess, chose to live her life as the bird did in Happy Ending #1. She is a counselor/social worker/therapist and is currently starting her own business where she writes professional articles & gives presentations on a variety of topics, including the dynamics of domestic abuse. She is pleased that since leaving her husband she has been able to write a short story, which highlights the lives of so many very real survivors/victims of emotional abuse. Turning Bird hopes that other victims can find the resources they need, as she did, to change their lives and fly free as survivors. You may contact the author at: turning_bird@bella_mag.com.



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