__________ never meant to hurt him; she was too pure for that, too pure for someone with his background, his behaviors. It might have been because of the way she was brought up and how stringent her parents were, making her tiptoe on thin ice so she could get to the other side of her fragile lake she called life.
What had fascinated him was how ____________ could stand up to all of that. Even when he saw her bruises and scars from an accidental rush of the wind blowing back her long hair that draped over her face, she would smile and simply reply, "I fell." He knew she was lying.
He wanted to do something. He wanted to help her. He so desperately wanted her to recognize him, to acknowledge his existence. He didn't want to be the blurry slush of paint in the backdrop that shied away from the real subjects. Did she have any subjects she focused on in her canvas? If he was curious, he was too afraid to ask, yet he was hurt. He wished, with all his heart, that she could look past him, past his gleaming red eyes that would often get him labeled as a demon, past his arrogant attitude which drove other people away and made others unable to take him seriously, past the fact that he tended to avoid close-knit relationships; yet he sought oneone single relationship that would have held him down to earth and made him feel alive.
He wanted her to be the one. The shell that she kept shut tightly around her prevented anyone from truly getting to know her. He wanted to open it, to take a small peak and coax her out, but every time he tried, she would clamp right down on his fingers like a startled shellfish protecting its soft flesh from ravenous eyes. He would have to pry a little harderor maybe a little softer.
He could have taken the short way home. Perhaps he could have even agreed to get a ride from his friend, but today, something pulled on him like invisible strings leading his feet to the long path behind the school to the old bike path. No one rode bikes on there anymore since the concrete roads had been worn and cracked from weathering and the tree roots pushing their way up from beneath the earth. Today was a good day for a walk anyway.
Then, he stopped. It wasn't an illusion. It couldn't have been. He had to find out.
"_____________." No response. He tried a little louder. "_____________."
Was she really trying that hard to ignore him? He was only a few paces away from her. Perhaps physical contact was necessary. He walked over to tap her on the shoulder, but she had already known he was there.
"Be quiet," was all _________ said.
He stopped and leaned cautiously forward. There was a small yellow ball of feather huddled in her delicate, cupped hands. It was a small yellow chick.
"It's sleeping," she said.
He slowly bent down until he was eye-to-eye with her downward gaze. There was a gleam of fascination in her eyes. Such a frail, fragile thing
If the chick managed to survive, it would have to face the outside world full of hardships, predators, the thought of never knowing where its next meal would come from
In a way, he started out like this. They all started out like this: exposed and helpless, reliant and hungry.
"May I hold it?" he asked softly.
Without a word, __________ handed the chick over to him with her hands barely opening to allow gravity to slowly pull the chick down onto his palms. As soon as it was cradled in his hands, he could feel a faint pulsation emitting from the tiny creature's body. Its heart was beating. He couldn't help but smile at the wonder of being able to hold something as precious and miraculous as a new life in his hands.
___________ noticed, too.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she whispered in a soothing voice.
" he agreed.
Just then, ______________ got to her feet and folded his hands over the bird in a protective, trusting gesture.
"Please take care of it for me," she said. There was something off in her voicewhat was it? Sorrow? Trust? He opened his mouth to say something, but by the time he did, she had disappeared down the bike path like a shooting star that had faded out of existence.
The next day, she did not return to school
and the day after that and the day after. He had asked around and even resorted to going to the office and sneaking a peek at her address in her file shoved in the back of the tin cabinet so he could show her the chick that was slowly maturing into a strong, healthy bird, but when he arrived at the address listed on a hastily scribbled-down piece of paper, there was no housejust a barren plot of land with a stark, flimsy board planted in the ground that read in bold red capitalized letters: SOLD.
She never came back. The rest of the school years flew by until everyone drifted apart with the coming of graduation. His friends moved on. He moved on, too. The bird that had been entrusted to his care went with him. He would take care of it until he saw her again.
But time was flying by. He felt unfulfilled. It didn't make any sense: he had a steady job, people he still kept in touch with, and a roof over his head complete with food on his table. There was a gaping hole in his heart where something should have filled it. He sought completion. He sought her.
What better way to find her and deliver his message than to become known?
He dropped everything: his job, his friends and brother, and his house so that he may pursue his new lifestyle. It started out small at first. It definitely didn't come close to paying his bills, but everyone had to start somewhere, right?
Each night, he would express his woes and agony in the form of melodies with meanings hidden deep within the chords that resonated from the vibrations in the air that his wounded heart carried out. The words cut clear and true, they touched people; they connected. It wasn't long before he climbed from the sleepy corner stage of a hidden bar in an alley to travelling the world and staying in rooms only accessible to the Somebodies. He was somebody.
where was she? How long would he have to suffer before he could reach her? His unfulfilled longing to see her and tell her how he felt was the only reason he continued to sing and write songs. Not for the fans who had been moved by his lyrics and despairing music, not for the moneyhe did it all for her.
Out of all the songs he wrote, his most popular and best-selling song was "Thorn Bird," the very embodiment of his anguish. He sang of a legend of a bird whose song outrivaled larks and nightingalesbut it had only done so after going on a journey, never stopping until it came to a thorn bush and impaling itself on the sharpest thorn; only then did its voice rise from its bloodied lungs in such lovely, but haunting notes as it struggled to sing with its dying breath. The message was clear and true: only through pain and suffering do the best truly come out.
Notice me, he begged. Tell me. Give me a sign.
My heart is breaking.
A letter came. After leafing through piles of fan mail, he found it. Her handwriting, her style
It was hers.
When he saw her, he was expecting a shy, timid girl with her face hiding behind her hair like a cowering crane, but he was wrong. She had blossomed into ripe womanhood, with her head held high and a bright smile on her face. He recognized her as someone else; she was in magazines and talk shows, but she had a different name so he had thought it was just pure coincidence.
"__-__________?" he stammered when his eyes feel upon her.
___________ nodded. "Yes, Gilbert, it's me. How's the bird doing?"
" Gilbert replied and bowed his head so she could get a better look at his pet.
"I've seen him with you on television a few times," she giggled.
"I've seen you, too," he said.
"Did you ever name him?" she asked as she took the bird into her hands and began to pet it.
"Nein," he answered. "I was hoping you could help me when you saw him again."
"Then I'll name him Gilbird."
Gilbert blinked. "Gilbird?"
"Why not? Isn't it an awesome name?"
Gilbird seemed to think so. The two of them burst out laughing.
"You've changed ___________."
"So have you," ___________ chuckled. "I heard your songs. They were for me, weren't they?"
_____________ smiled. "Thank you."
"No problem." Gilbert fidgeted nervously in place. "Listen, __________...?"
Gilbert swallowed. He had her full attention now. He could say what he felt after everything he had endured.
"Ich liebe dich."
He knew __________ understood German; she had travelled to Germany and had her pictures published in magazines, after all.
___________ giggled. "I know you do, Gilbert."
Gilbert's pursed his lips together in embarrassment. "H-How about you?"
"Would you like to know from me as seen in magazines and television or would you like to know from __________?" she asked teasingly.
"___________," he answered without a second of doubt.
___________ smiled. "I love you, too, Gilbert. In a way, I was like you: I was too afraid to say anything when I had the chance."
"You just did," Gilbert pointed out.
"I did, didn't I?" _____________ laughed.
"Ja," he replied hoarsely. She loved him. She loved him. He was still rewinding those words in his head even as he bent forward and kissed her on her lips. The paparazzi could screw themselves if they were watching.
" _____________ mumbled.
There was a look of hesitation in her eyes, but she still spoke up.
"You're going to stop singing, aren't you?"
"Ja," Gilbert answered.
This made a soft smile spread across ______________'s face.
"I'm glad," she said. "You're not hurt anymore, are you? Now that you've found me, I mean."
"I'm not," Gilbert chuckled.
____________ placed her tender lips onto his. "Can you sing for me? Just one last time?"
"Of course," he smiled and began to sing softly into her ear. It was a simple song, a song that lacked his usual screeching chords and loud bass that earned his way to the top of the charts in the music industry, but it was purea song meant only for her. It was as good as his other songs, if not better, but his rise to stardom was over, the thorn in his heart nonexistent.