by Andrea Marcusa
I remember the streak of yellow, the squawk, and flash of feathers after she squirmed by my shocked hands, launched herself from the cage, rocketing upward, flapping her tiny wings, past my flailing arms, up past the lilac bush, past the roof, into the sun’s blinding glare.
Why had I opened the cage door?
Sometimes you relive a story in your mind your entire life and only when you tell it out loud do you learn the truth. I was six years old, smitten with our pet parakeet Daisy. For thirty-five years I’ve blamed myself for her escape. In my memory, I’d longed to share the warm sun and pink cherry blossoms of an April Saturday with the being I loved the most. I’d cradled the wire cage with Daisy inside and descended the back steps to our yard where I set them on the grass under the flowering tree.
Last year, as my mother lay dying, we sisters gathered and while she dozed in the next room, we shared family stories. When I told the tale of Daisy’s escape, I felt it rip through me all over again. But Gabby, five years older, claimed no, that I’d never opened the bird’s door, merely tempted fate when I placed the cage in the open air. It was Gabby’s eleven-year-old hand that had reached inside the cage and that the bird had scrambled past before springing skyward.
Now that I know the truth and picture Gabby’s murky presence that day, and finally recall this suffering right, I can absolve myself from a sin I’ve carried for decades. But what about the other facts of my life? The ones that wedge like broken glass deep within or those that glow like a pot of honey in morning sun. Are they a mere expression of ache and guilt or love? Like that flash of yellow rushing past my hands—not Gabby’s— swift, urgent, flapping toward the blinding light?
Andrea Marcusa’s literary fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Booth, Citron Review, New South, River Styx, River Teeth and others. She’s received recognition from the writing competitions Glimmer Train, New Letters, Raleigh Review and Southampton Review. Andrea divides her time between creating literary works and photographs and writing articles on medicine, technology, and education. To learn more visit: andreamarcusa.com or follow her on Twitter @d_marcusa