Fiction: ‘The Sparrow and the Sun’

69 - The Sparrow and the Sun
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There once lived a sparrow who loved the sun with all its heart.

All throughout the spring and well into summer, he would perch on the highest branch of the tallest tree and sing to his golden beloved. He sang so sweetly and earnestly that all the people of the town would gather around his tree to listen to the joyous music.

But every note in every song was for the sun.

And she always showed her appreciation by shining down warmly upon his tree, and stroking his feathers with her golden rays. His heart was so full of joy, he would sing even sweeter. As the leaves changed from green to orange and began to spiral down to the ground, the little sparrow felt that his sun was starting to slip away from him.

She shone less brightly now, and her lovely face seemed cooler.

‘Do not fret,’ said his friend the robin one heavy autumn day. ‘She is a fickle lady, and is always gallivanting about with others for part of the year. She will return as she always does. Until then, it’s best to forget about her.’

Even though this was sound advice, the little sparrow couldn’t bear to listen.

All he could think of was how she would be shining upon some other bird in a faraway land, while he waited for her in the gloom of winter. As the trees grew bare and the nights long, the little sparrow stopped singing. He still sat upon his branch, watching for a break in the clouds so that he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.

‘Come and shelter with us, my brother,’ the robin said to him one frosty morning. ‘It’s no use catching your death out here. Join us in the rafters of the old barn. We have built a nest from straw and the old farmer lights a fire inside for his dogs. It is warm and you won’t be so lonely with us around.’

‘Thank you, my friend,’ he replied. And even though he was grateful to have such a kind and loyal companion, he didn’t join him in the firelight under the shelter of the barn.

As night came creeping in, he saw another face in the sky. She was paler and her light shone softer, but there was no mistaking the shadow of his lost love hanging amongst the stars. In the gentlest tones he began to sing. Each note rang out into the night with such sweet sorrow that even the icy-hearted wind stopped blowing so that it could listen.

The next morning the sky was a clean shade of blue.

He watched the sun rise upon the horizon and dance above him before starting her journey to the other end of the world. Without a second thought, the little sparrow spread his wings and took flight. He raced after her, soaring high into winds as he chased after her golden rays. He flew until his wings ached and the winds tore at his feathers. Still, he followed the sun, spurred on by the hope of her warm embrace.

He flew over the coast and above the raging sea. He passed over jagged reefs and fishing boats lashed by the waves. Soon his little wings began to fail. He pushed on against the wind that tried to pull him back the way he had come.

‘Go back, little one,’ sighed the wind. ‘You cannot catch her. Go back now, while you still have the strength to.’

But the sparrow didn’t listen. He forced himself to go on despite the exhaustion which threatened to take over. Below, the ships and boats had disappeared, and for a long time all he could see were strange spires of ice sticking up out of the water, and then even they began to fade.

‘Go back, little one, so that you may rest,’ pleaded the wind. ‘I have seen enough in my ancient life to know that you cannot catch her. Please go back to your little town, and be content with what you have.’

The little sparrow didn’t respond.

He kept on flying and his little heart raced in his breast as he followed the last ray of the sun’s beautiful light. As she finally slipped away beyond the horizon, leaving him behind without a second thought, the sparrow felt his heart suddenly break under the weight of his grief and disappointment.

His little wings gave up and he dropped down into the deep dark sea.

When spring returned the sun came back as she always did, but the town was quieter than it had been before, and it took the townsfolk a while to realise that their little singing sparrow was no longer in his tree.

~ Ekaterina

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