Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
His legs dangled off the cliff, swinging unrhythmically with one another. The trees rustled and whistled in a slightly out of tune with the grass. Every once while, there would be an additional, out of time rustle that he blamed on the tan and white rabbits he saw. He let the wind sting his eyes as he stared outwards, gazing upon the crystal sea below and the waves rocking harshly against rocks in their way.

He lifted a metal bottle, dented from mishaps, and took a sip, the substance warmed by the sun. When he felt his phone buzz, he glanced down at it and saw a text from his mom. He turned his head away, knowing she’d have nothing better to say than “Where are you?” He let his body drop onto the cool grass caked with dirt, shifting his back around to avoid bumps and sharp edges. He gave up when he couldn’t find a position that left him comfortable. He felt jagged rocks pierce his skin, causing some pain, but not tearing anything.

His eyes pointed up to the sky again; the sky faded between a light blue and a darker blue until it blended with the grass. The sun shivered in the blue sky and let its golden streaks huddle close to it. The clouds were simple wisps like a thread of cotton laid out flat in the sky.

Birds painted themselves on top of all of that, white bodies pointed to glide their way north. It looked more or less like a cluster, like drops of snow tripping over themselves to create a smooth v-formation. Even so, their black-tipped wings let the birds bob up and down in sync. Hypocritically, they honked, like a goofy clown car you would see at the local underfunded circus in your hometown. His eyes drifted back to one bird that hung far behind compared to the other, which extended the left-hand side.

Nothing about it was right. Its face was a snowy white, but then its body was dipped in grey paint. The tip of its wing was black and white interlaced with one another. He doubted if even the honk was the same, a lower or higher pitch than the others wouldn’t be shocking. It still managed to glide along the horizon and danced through the same clouds as its flock. He was amused by it, as its interlaced feathers dipped into the faded blues and out again.

It pissed him off a little, how it hung in the back of the crowd and maintained the position as if it knew that it was behind and didn’t care. It was doing the minimal while everyone else worked hard to keep the formation sound. It would bring everyone else down undoubtedly, crashing into the trees and trapping them in a dark cage. He took a deep breath, knowing getting all worked up about a stupid bird wasn’t worth the effort. Stupid bird.

He knew he was overreacting, but none of the other birds seemed bothered by it. They didn’t really care. The imperfect bird’s wings were still flapping, even if it was a little behind, to the same place as everyone else. It didn’t matter how it got to the South, but as long as it got there, it was set to survive. Maybe, if he turned that invisible cap into a paper beak, he’d get the same treatment.

He didn’t know what was even pushing him to fly anymore. Crippling fear of getting nowhere in life without a degree? Indoctrination by the system telling him he needed this? Did anyone even believe him in anymore? He sure didn't. There were easier ways to get over a bump than just riding along. He was using one right now. God, but wouldn’t that make him weak? He didn’t want to be weak.

I looked back at his car, hidden behind the shivering trees and rustling rabbits. It was pointed off the cliff and sat, just waiting to be used. It gleamed red, like a prize presented to him a door-to-door salesman. He looked back at the bird, as it floated further from him and to its ultimate goal, undeterred. He took another swig from his bottle before throwing it off the cliff.

He didn’t need it anymore.