Ashes Ashes We All Fall Down by Anna Bores

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           In a quiet town on a quiet street a quiet little boy sat by his windowsill.  He was watching the bird that always sat outside.  The boy thought it would distract him from the blue spot under his own eye.  The boy liked its tiny size, its wide eyes, and its high-pitched chirp that always alternated between the same few notes.  Its shiny feathers were never out of place, making it look like a newly purchased toy.  However, tonight, the bird looked ill.  Its eyes were almost closed, its chirping sluggish, its feathers covered in dirt. The boy wanted to help, but he did not know how.  So he turned off his lamp and went to sleep.     

           The next day the boy sat in the living room.  Light was shining in such a way that his sister’s toys looked like they were glowing.  He swallowed the butterflies in his stomach and crawled over until his face was in the sun.  He picked up the closest doll and ran his fingers through its hair.

           “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” The boy’s heart skipped a beat before he ran to the dim side of the living room.  But his father was faster, and suddenly the collar of the boy’s shirt was in the dad’s hand, the father’s face was an inch away from the boy’s.

           “You’re worthless!”  The boy fell to the floor and found himself incapable of running away.  He sat there, barely breathing, barely blinking, more still than any child should be.

           Later that night he sat down by his windowsill, but the bird was not there.  He climbed onto his dresser and looked again.  A smile spread across his face, but it quickly disappeared.

           The bird was not breathing and it was not blinking.

           It was dead.

           The town remained quiet.