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Wyvern Lit
Photo May 22, 10 19 18.jpg

What They Give Children

Fiction by Nicholas Finch

            When I was five, I thought the bird's song was something only I could hear, and that made me special.

            When I was seven, they gave me crayons and papier-mâché.

            At nine they told me to build something. I soaked up the seas with the papier-mâché and turned the crayons to dulled stumps and dust. I built a globe, and fit into it everything I needed along with the plausibility of the infinite.

            At thirteen, they gave me a hammer and told me to build something else, but I was happy with my globe. That was all I needed.

            When I was fourteen, I found out, through a friend, that we all hear the same songs from the birds. They showed me all the birds perched high up in the trees watching over us in the yard.

            At fifteen there was a girl that stole my hammer and replaced it with a bigger one. We admired the worlds we had created for ourselves.

            By sixteen we had both killed all the birds in the yard with our hammers, and they fell from the trees like heavy leaves falling dead in autumn.

            The next year, we tried building little tombs for the birds with our hammers, but we couldn't dig deep enough. We gave up; we'd become too reliant on the hammers. Soon she was a stranger to me, and to her I was a flightless bird she tried hard not to kill. We walked away with our own worlds tucked in our arms like dead children as we wiped the tears away leaving the shoulders of our shirts wet. I was sad we'd killed all the birds because now silence was the loudest thing in the morning. Eventually I tried asking the girl what she'd done with my old hammer, but she'd since died of dehydration.

            When I was eighteen, I woke up to them putting my globe into a birdcage. They told me I had to build something else. But this time they didn't give me papier-mâché or crayons. They left me with the hammer and the caged globe and the backyard of dead birds. I was too scared of damaging the globe to break open the birdcage. I sat in silence, trying to think up my own song.