A Bird in the Hand

Aug. 9, 2019
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A Bird in the Hand

            It was right next to her garden. The local fat cat perched low to the ground, watching its movement in the tall green grass. He’d been just about to pounce when she came around the house, but he sprang, taking off into the neighboring hedge without his prize. Helen put down her gardening tools beside the blank bed of mulch she had sectioned off. The orchids she’d planted four months ago still hadn’t begun to poke their heads through the surface. Curiosity pulled her over to the moving patch of grass and she bent down to see what the cat had been hunting.

            It was a bird. It’s feathers, too small to be an adult’s, covered its body in a layer of soft down. As she stood over it, the bird tried to flap its wings. Helen watched in frozen awe as the little thing flapped and flailed, then paused to throw back its head and cry out. Helen didn’t understand birds, but she understood pain. She scooped him up carefully in her gloved hands and rushed back to the house. She kicked at the front door, too afraid to drop the little thing to spare a hand to open it herself. Her husband came to the door, opened it and peered down at her, his eyes wide.

            “What is that Helen?” he asked. He sounded slightly out of breath.

            She pushed into the house around him and held out her cupped hands. “It’s a baby bird.”

            He looked at it, tweeting and squirming in her grip. “It’s not a baby. It’s a fledgling. It probably fell out of its nest while trying to fly.”

            She pulled the bird a little closer to her chest as if that could stop the crying. “I think that fat cat got to him.”

            “Probably, looks like it’s bleeding a little on its left wing.” He placed his hands over hers. “Come on, let’s go clean it up.”

            They went to the first-floor powder room and Helen watched her husband fill the sink with shallow warm water. He got his own pair of latex gloves and together they lowered the bird into the water. The first contact was chaos. It thrashed, only further hurting itself in the process. Helen resisted the urge to throw her hands over her ears as the bird’s chirps filled the small space. Finally, her husband got a solid enough grip to keep it from fighting. Helen watched her husband bathe the little bird until the water turned pink from its blood. He let her dry it, giving her instructions whenever she rubbed too hard or a distraction whenever her hands started to shake.

            It was the first time, she realized, she’d ever been so close to her husband for almost a month. In the small powder room, she could feel his warmth, hear the steadiness of his breathing and she didn’t feel like running away.

            Together, they dressed the bird’s wounds— a cut on its wing and a scratch on its leg. It had settled by then, no longer flinching from Helen’s touch.

            “We should feed him,” Helen said. She couldn’t take her eyes off the creature, watching its chest rise and fall rapidly. If she placed her thumb in just the right spot, she could feel its little heart thrumming. “And we should give him somewhere to sleep. I read once that you should use an old shoebox.”

            Her husband didn’t respond, and she looked up, meeting his eyes. She watched his Adam’s apple move up and down in a pronounced swallow; he always did that when he feared his own words.

            “Helen, don’t go naming it,” he said. He kept his tone low and even, as if she were the frightened bird in the room. “You know we have to let it go as soon as it’s healthy again.”

            Helen swallowed her anger and nodded. “I know.”

            He watched her as if trying to read her thoughts. “It’s probably a robin. Feed it some stale bread. I’ll get a shoebox.”

            Helen took the bird to the kitchen and pretended she didn’t hear her husband sigh when she walked away. She located the stale pieces of the end slices of their old loaf, moving with confidence and occasionally carrying the bird with one hand when she had to. She crumpled some bread and nestled it in her palm. The bird pecked at it curiously, then began to eat, swallowing large mouthfuls of the bread with rapid-fire pecks.

            “Hold on Baby Bird, don’t eat too quickly.” Helen felt a smile on her face as she watched him eat and whispered it again. “Baby Bird.”

            It technically wasn’t a name, at least not a suitable one. She convinced herself her husband wouldn’t mind. She fed Baby Bird until her husband returned with a box of twigs, grass, and shredded toilet paper, then lowered him inside. He seemed warry of his new home and moved the contents around until he was content, settling in his new home. She sat and fed him by hand, her garden tools forgotten until her husband brought them back inside.

            “Why don’t you just leave some bread inside the box for it? If you keep feeding it like that, it’ll bite your fingers,” her husband suggested.

            He moved when she didn’t, putting breadcrumbs in a small bowl and put it in the corner of the box. He put a lid on it with holes poked into the surface, then picked up the box and carried it away from his wife. She followed close behind him, calling out warnings whenever he started to tilt it or looked like he’d trip on the corner of their rug. He put the box on the family room table in a ray of sunlight.

            “There, now it’ll stay warm for a while,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about it.”

            “What if he moves around and falls off the table.”

            Her husband visibly clenched his jaw and moved the box to the floor instead. “There. Completely safe.”

            She nodded, satisfied for the time being.

            “Come on, why don’t we cook dinner together.” Her husband touched her shoulder and slowly moved his hand to the base of her spine. When she didn’t pull away, he put an arm around her waist.

            Helen counted to seven before moving away and made sure that she smiled. “Dinner sounds nice. Just let me wash up first.”

            Her husband smiled, moved in for a kiss, then seemed to think better of it. Helen removed the gloves from her hands and made sure to seal every door and window as if the fat cat would somehow gain the ability to open them with his paws. Helen leaned down over the little shoebox.

            “I won’t let anyone hurt you Baby Bird,” she whispered.

            She smiled when she heard him chirp in response.

            Helen and Baby Bird became inseparable over the next week, but she figured that her husband didn’t complain because she finally started sleeping in the bed with him again. She could feel him stir whenever she got up in the middle of the night to check on Baby Bird. She fully expected him to speak up when she added one of the knitted squares from the unfinished quilt to the corner of the shoebox, but he ignored it. He even indulged her when she asked him to hold Baby Bird while she strategically placed it inside.

            Helen rediscovered the sound of her own laughter while she fed him, and his beak would clamp down on her fingers. The first time sounded foreign in her ears, a reflexive sound made to reassure her of the fleetingness of pain, but she learned to practice it, to keep up the appearance of happiness. Laughter helped while she would sit in the nursery. Along with the company of Baby bird, the room seemed a little less haunted. Helen almost didn’t notice the empty, half-dissembled crib or its box that sat in the corner until Baby Bird used them to practice branching. The face of the cardboard baby on the box was partially missing from where the adhesive had pulled away. It had been smiling once.

            Helen didn’t notice the emptiness as much. She’d only watched Baby Bird hop around on his newly healed leg. When her husband went to work, she took the bandage off his wing too. He loved to sit by the window, so Helen opened it, but only because the screen was firmly in place. Baby Bird pecked at the glass otherwise until she complied, letting him feel the outside air in his feathers. She eventually realized why— his nest sat in the tree just outside their window, empty except for the old shells of his egg. When she noticed, she felt less inclined to open the window, scolding Baby Bird and making excuses about the room getting too hot if she let the Summer air inside. She’d tell herself that it was Baby Bird and not her that wasn’t ready for departure. So, when her husband asked about the bird, she said, “He’s healing,” then distracted him with the latest local news and events of her day.

            “Miss Mack said that it’s not my fault the orchids died,” Helen said, poking at a slightly undercooked carrot on her plate. “She said it’s just the weather lately. It got too hot and wet too quickly. You just can’t fight nature.”

            “No, I guess you can’t,” her husband said. He didn’t look up from his plate.

            “I was thinking about getting some new plants soon, just to have something to do,” Helen added.

            He managed a smile to soften his tone. It was about as dry as the steak his wife had cooked. Neither of them had ever been good at cooking steak, but Helen had insisted on it when she saw her husband set the chicken out on the counter to thaw.

            “We wouldn’t want to insult our guest,” she protested with a smile.

            “It’s a robin, not a chicken,” he’d replied.

            But he’d laughed and settled for steak instead. Now, Helen watched her husband’s Adam’s apple bob up and down as he slowly set his knife on the table. She braced for the words that were about to come out of his mouth, but then Baby Bird started to chirp from their living room. Helen got halfway out of her seat when her husband placed his hand over hers.

            “Helen,” he said, then paused long enough to make sure he had her full attention. “When do you think you’ll start working again?”

            Helen slowly sank into her seat, frowning slightly. “It’s Summer. All the schools are closed.”

            “Yes, but don’t you think you should try something. It might help if you ease yourself into working with the kids again. The daycare is hiring part time workers. You always loved working there.”

            Of course, she knew that. She’d had a long conversation with Jill, the owner, on the phone and it was one of the many things Jill had mentioned. Helen watched her husband shift in his seat, trying to make himself seem as unconfrontational as possible. He started to weave his fingers into hers, but she pulled away.

            “I don’t think I’m up to working at the daycare this summer. I just want to work on my garden.” Baby Bird started to chirp again, and she grit her teeth. She knew that if she got up from the table, she wouldn’t go back for the rest of the night.

            “Okay,” he said finally. “I just wanted to make sure that you’re ready. Do what you want.”

            His words said one thing, but the razor-blade in his tone pricked against her heart. Helen forgot how to make her husband happy for longer than an hour. She chewed the inside of her lip.

            “Just promise me that you’ll think about it,” he said into the pregnant silence. “I’m going to turn in early. Are you okay to take care of the leftovers?”

            She nodded mutely. “I’ll be up shortly.”

            She listened to her husband leave the room, then ascend the stairs before she went to bring Baby Bird into the kitchen. She scraped the leftovers into the trash.

            The daycare never crossed Helen’s mind in the days that followed, and her husband never brought it up again. Conversations at the dinner table became about Baby Bird. She started calling him that even to her husband’s face. She told him about all of Baby Bird’s firsts: the spider he’d caught in the nursery, the first time he’d clumsily flown from the floor and up to her outstretched hand, and the first time he’d come hopping over to her when she called his name. Clearly, Baby Bird was fully healed, but the storm clouds constantly looming over the horizon warded off all conversation of setting the bird free.

            Soon Baby Bird grew the first patch of orange feathers on his chest. He was growing quickly, getting stronger and more confident in his flying. She liked to watch him circle the walls of the nursery, but he always came to rest in front of the window. Her husband was no longer fooled when she said, “He’s healing”. So, she started to spend more time with him to prove that she wasn’t too attached. She’d leave Baby Bird in the nursery with the door shut and a pile of birdseed to keep him quiet and fed. Her husband appreciated the effort and Helen realized that she’d missed her husband’s company. It was nice to laugh with someone for a change.

            She and her husband had been cooking dinner together most days. They agreed that it would be best if they stuck to eating chicken. That evening she forgot about Baby Bird until she started to clear the table from dinner. Helen went to the nursery to check on Baby Bird after clearing the kitchen.  She opened the door cautiously then slipped inside. Only, Baby Bird wasn’t flying around the ceiling or sitting in his makeshift nest in the crib. He wasn’t by the window. She’d left it open since the air outside had gotten cooler. A hole was torn in the screen that had protected them both from the outside world.

            Helen felt a familiar emptiness again in the silence of nursery. She had no idea just how long he’d been gone. The blue walls swirled together in the tears that spilled down her face. She let them fall, let the silence wash over her until they went dry. Her husband tapped on the door and pushed it open, surprising her. He entered the room even more rarely than she did.

            “You coming back downstairs?” he asked.

            She nodded, not turning around to face him. “I just have to take out some trash.”

            She cleaned up the birdseed that was still scattered on the floor. She piled everything into her arms, struggling to balance it all until her eyes hit the cardboard crib box in the corner. She dumped everything inside: the shoebox, the nest, the blue yarn. If her husband thought anything strange when she carried the oversized box down the stairs, he said nothing. He was waiting when she walked back into the house and settled onto the couch at his side. He slipped an arm around her waist pulling her close. They watched the smiling family on the screen, grinning while a voice-over advertised some insurance plan.

            I would’ve been a good mother. She thought the words to herself at first then repeated them aloud, unsure if her husband could actually hear her. “I would’ve been a good mother.”

 


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Great attempt, but short-sighted, with huge technical problems.
K-Anu-Grymm rated this work:

Aug. 13, 2019, 6:22 p.m.

Hello!

INTRODUCTION
I consider this your first paragraph. So, another reviewer told you that your pronouns were not very clear—and I have to agree.

Being that we know the title of the short story and the synopsis of said short story, we can use some simple deductive reasoning to assume the “it” has to be the bird we’ll be reading about. Your title and synopsis should not be relied upon to make the first paragraph clear. I do not think that’s what you were doing, primarily because you refer to the bird as an “it”, which means you were going for something a bit more mysterious.

I knew it had to be the bird, but I wished you had said “the bird”, or, for a mystery to the character, refer to it as a “something”, considering the woman does not know it’s a bird until she goes to check it out.

Here’s your two opening lines:
 It was right next to her garden. The local fat cat perched low to the ground, watching its movement in the tall green grass.

The first part establishes the setting: the garden. I like that! “It” is unclear, and then you bring in the cat, who…isn’t, “it”. Perhaps you could try combining these? Some possibilities to think about…
Suggestion 1: Something was in her garden, and it attracted the local fat cat inside.
Suggestion 2: Something in her garden attracted the local fat cat.
Suggestion 3: The local fat cat was back in her garden, and that meant something small and helpless wandered in.

From there, you can go on with your description of the cat where his body language clearly indicates he’s excited and about to pounce. I liked that part.

“The orchids she’d planted four months ago still hadn’t begun to poke their heads through the surface.”

This breaks up the “tension” on what’s happening. From Helen’s POV I do not understand why this is mentioned. She’s so curious she has to go check out what Fat Cat is doing, and then there’s a random mention of her orchids. Is it because her orchids aren’t cooperating that she’s bored, and leaving them to check out what the cat is doing?

You could 1) mention the orchids and the work later. Helen could do something so simple as be watering her plants. 2) Open instead with how her orchids won’t grow—which can symbolize the way her unfortunate pregnancy never did. Helen’s attention is then brought away from her frustration regarding her orchids to Fat Cat.

Overall, I do like the opening. It establishes a setting, a small curiosity, Helen struggling with something (her garden), and it also shows she’s kind. I say this because she doesn’t chase away Fat Cat.

THE REST

“She kicked at the front door…”
Perhaps “kicked” is a bit extreme of a word to use. I was envisioning firefighter-kicking to get inside a house! Try…
“She knocked with her foot…”

Punctuation:
“Her husband came to the door, opened it and peered down at her, his eyes wide.”
Correction: opened it,
However, there’s a lot of pauses in the sentence at this point. You could say “with widening eyes” instead.
Who is “her”? Helen? Why is he peering down? How short IS she? He has to be peering down at what she has in her hands, surely. It’d be easier to just mention “he noticed the bird”.

“It’s not a baby. It’s a fledgling. It probably fell out of its nest while trying to fly.”
Suggestion: Cut out “It’s not a baby”.

“Probably, looks like it’s bleeding a little on its left wing.”
Correction: Probably.
The way you had it, it sounded as though he was saying, “It probably looks like it’s bleeding…”

“Helen swallowed her anger and nodded. “I know.”
The husband already did the swallowing thing so it’s redundant for her to have the same action. Maybe she clenches her jaw instead?

Helen took the bird to the kitchen and pretended she didn’t hear her husband sigh when she walked away.
Suggestion: Helen pretended not to hear her husband sigh when she took the bird to the kitchen.

 “Hold on Baby Bird, don’t eat too quickly.”
Correction: on,

“…husband returned with a box of twigs, grass, and shredded toilet paper, then lowered him inside.”
This sounds like the husband “him” at first. Please clarify that it’s about the bird.

 “What if he moves around and falls off the table.”
Was the missing question mark intentional? Asking since it could be a tonal choice.

“Come on, why don’t we cook dinner together.” 
Question mark?

“Her husband touched her shoulder and slowly moved his hand to the base of her spine.”
This is…very assuming of him. Higher up it mentions she has been near him for over a month or something of the sort. I cannot imagine anyone 1) having no contact with their wife for awhile, 2) then thinking the moment she is okay being near him because she’s focused on the bird, assumes she’ll be okay with him touching her more, 3) which comes after he keeps telling her “don’t get attached”, knowing she’s annoyed, and knowing he’s annoyed from her worrying about the bird. And then, not only doing 2 but, 4) pushing this a bit too far. A hand on the shoulder, okay. Putting his hand on her lower back, arm around her waist? Way too much, way too fast.

Helen counted to seven before moving away and made sure that she smiled. “Dinner sounds nice. Just let me wash up first.”

Why did she bother counting to 7? Again, it says she hasn’t been close to him for a long time. Why not just put away from the beginning?

I’m starting to think that when you write she hasn’t been close to him, it’s not at all talking about physical closeness? It’s just a mindful, emotional closeness she felt when they were tending to the bird together? If so, this needs clarification.

“Helen didn’t notice the emptiness as much.”
The previous paragraph already established, 1) Baby Bird’s brought some light to the house, and 2) it seems less empty, and 3) Helen’s not as easily reminded of the crib.

“She’d tell herself that it was Baby Bird and not her that wasn’t ready for departure. So, when her husband asked about the bird, she said, “He’s healing,” then distracted him with the latest local news and events of her day.”
This may be a bit too straightforward, though I know that can often come down to style of writing. Perhaps, even, it would be better to show this and not tell? For example, right after this, you cover a conversation between the husband and Helen. He can ask there, and she’ll can say “He’s healing”, etc.

“The daycare is hiring part time workers. You always loved working there.”
Yikes. That’s a rather cruel thing for him to suggest after her ordeal.

“He started to weave his fingers into hers, but she pulled away.”
I had no idea they were even sitting right near each other. I’m also assuming their in their dining room, but it’d be nice to establish because these days a lot of people may eat in the living room on the couch, etc.

“His words said one thing, but the razor-blade in his tone pricked against her heart.”
This was a really nice line!

AVIAN TECHNICALITIES

“ They went to the first-floor powder room…”

This entire paragraph is questionable. Do either of them know anything about birds? Might they look it up online or something? The fledgling was almost killed by a cat. It knows something is wrong, it’s scared, and even more terrified now that it is in the hands of enemies. Some animals just know that you’re trying to help them, but it takes a bit for them to come to that point. Right now, this isn’t much different from being in the mouth of Fat Cat.

I’ve come across a couple injured birds before. A lot of mistakes can be made from people having good intentions, trying to help a bird. I know there’s a story here you want to tell, so of course they’re not going to call a rehabilitation center for birds or anything, but if either of them know anything about wild animals:

Wild animals are scared to death of people. It is absolutely terrifying to be near us, and in our captivity. Prey animals—like rabbits, and tiny birds—can get so scared that they die from their own heart. I would not be surprised if the fledgling died while trying to wash the bird.

If both of them use some common sense they can ask themselves, “Well, do we really need to wash the bird’s injury? I’ve never heard about how any injury is a death sentence to birds.” At the very most, put corn starch or something else that helps the blood at the injury site to coagulate so that no more blood comes seeping out.

The first injured bird I came across also died. I wished I’d left it alone outside and simply kept an eye on it. Birds often stop flying for a bit out of shock or exhaustion, then they fly off.

“And we should give him somewhere to sleep. I read once that you should use an old shoebox.”

This also indicated Helen read an article detailing things like this. Did she remember nothing else?

“It’s probably a robin. Feed it some stale bread. I’ll get a shoebox.”
This is a really bad idea. Bread kills birds overtime. :(

“The bird pecked at it curiously, then began to eat, swallowing large mouthfuls of the bread with rapid-fire pecks.”
99% chance this bird would be far too terrified to eat.

“Why don’t you just leave some bread inside the box for it? If you keep feeding it like that, it’ll bite your fingers,” her husband suggested.
Does he really think a fledgling bird could hurt that much?

“Helen and Baby Bird became inseparable over the next week,”
How much time is this? An entire week? The bird would not last that long, especially being a fledgling. If Fat Cat got him at all with his dirty nails or teeth, there is an extremely big probability the bird will be infected and die. The stress would also make it worse and lower its immune system, making the probability even higher.

OVERALL

You have more dialogue where question marks should be, more missing commas, etc. The piece definitely needs an edit, and the realities of the bird and his injury needs to be reassessed.

I didn’t care for the husband at all. He was insensitive about an extremely complicated situation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she divorced him--and then by the end I think they deserve each other exactly as they are.

At the same time, I don’t think you clarified exactly why she doesn’t want to be touched by him. I can reason through it in my mind, but in a written piece I should have more evidence for my thoughts. She’s depressed, she doesn’t feel like intimacy, she’s miserable, and she probably even hates her own body because it couldn’t keep the pregnancy, so why would she want her husband to touch her? Again, though, there’s not enough on this.

I didn't understand why he was only "husband" either. It'd make more sense if she thinks of him by his name, and by the end in her mind she refers to him as husband, showing that she's back to being close with him and he's not just a roommate figure at that point. If instead referring to him as husband constantly means she doesn't see him as a person--a sociable human object she can interact and depend on--is the point, then by the end she should be calling him/think of him with his name.

The last line doesn’t affect me much as it should have, if only because when she says “I would have been a good mother”, my immediate reaction was, “That’s horribly wrong.”

I’m sorry, but the way they took care of the bird was awful. In all likelihood that bird would be dead. Now, let’s say the story was corrected, and she took care of the bird the right way. In the end, she didn’t let the bird go on her own. She trapped the bird and she took the bird away from its own parents.

Can you reason the bird parents abandoned the fledgling? It’s highly unlikely unless they were both killed. Even if a fledgling “smells like a human”, the parents will continue to come by and drop off food to their young. I’ve seen it happen before, and more, all research proves they do not abandon their young because of a certain scent on them. They don’t really care. Their sense of smell isn’t that great to begin with.

So, in short, Helen 1) didn’t care for the bird correctly, and, 2) in the end, she imprisoned the bird, denied him his parents where he belongs, and denied him his real home. 3) she didn't bother to do research, or rather, renew her research.

Is taking care of a bird different from taking care of a child? Yes. Children are even harder to take care of, so that's not a good sign. Plus, if the bird symbolizes what her child could have been, she imprisoned that child and did not make the right choice in the end by freeing the child herself when the child was ready to go. The child had to run away (this still stands if in actuality Fat Cat somehow got it, which is also just about impossible at this point). On top of that she failed to bother preparing for the child by not doing her research. The way in which she takes care of the bird is contradictory to the end I think you want.

Now, if this is one big piece explaining that she shouldn't have been a parent...I'd applaud you for the genius, because all evidence provided points to that, and I'd love this.

I did enjoy reading the story. It had its errors. The ending is short-sighted, however, and actually ended up ruining what I just read. I suggest re-evaluating what message you’re sending and how. There's great potential here.

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The emotional core is there, but the story needs balance.
naricorn rated this work:

Aug. 9, 2019, 9:40 p.m.

Hey! This was a sweet story. Some thoughts throughout:

*I'd suggest rewording the first paragraph because it started off confusing. I reread a couple times just to understand what was "it" and "her" and "he" and who I should be focusing on. At first I thought it was the cat. Maybe instead of the first "it," a description of some sort. The color. The shape. Some image.

*A couple typos, like "it's feathers" and "warry." I don't think summer should be capitalized either.

*I didn't like "Helen didn't understand birds, but she understood pain." Too overt for me.

*What's the purpose of withholding her husband's name? Surely she refers to him by his name and not "husband."

*Coming back to this section after the first read, I'd say there needs to be more underlying tension in the scene where Helen's husband first appears. I didn't get the sense that anything was really wrong between them based on that interaction. Some paragraphs later, she realizes she hasn't been that close to him in a while, which is good, but I would've liked more lead-in.

*I think you could say "he always did that when he feared his own words" better. Reads a little awkwardly. Also, "as if trying to read her thoughts" seems unnecessary.

*I like the tension here, where Helen's husband is trying to touch her and she moves away. Does he do this often?

*Others may disagree, but I think the story could work well if loss of the baby isn't mentioned so obviously halfway via the nursery scene. Has her husband ever brought up putting away the nursery items so they can move on?

*Ah, I didn't notice the "You just can't fight nature" line the first time around. Really nice touch.

*Absolutely LOVED the ending. A good ol' pang in my heart.

Overall, my biggest issue was the characterization of their relationship in the beginning. I think you do well slowly expanding on it as you go, but it's sparse in the beginning. There are also moments where I think you could withhold a bit more information and have us infer emotion and motivation through character action. But again, great read!

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An emotionally-charged story with great potential!
Hyba rated this work:

Aug. 17, 2019, 6:13 p.m.

I enjoyed reading this story - it was a lovely look at loss and grief. I especially liked the comparison between the baby bird and the baby that Helen lost. Losing a child can be emotionally scarring, and I appreciate how you presented this through the distance between Helen and her husband, as well as the empty nursery - and the complete and utter emptiness I was left with at the end of the story. I wasn't quite sure how to react at the end. I knew it was sad, but it wasn't the kind of sad that made me cry. It was the quiet, empty kind of sad - the sad one gets when something's missing from their life and they're not quite sure where to go from there. In that way, I felt I could understand and feel a fraction of Helen's loss.

Plot-wise, I like the simplicity of the story because it really allowed me to focus on the characters and what they are going through. I found myself having mixed reactions to the characters and their decisions, but there's no denying that both the husband and the wife are 'only human', so to speak.

Apart from some changes to sentence structure throughout as it can disrupt the flow, I found this to be a very good read. The story would probably benefit from trying to give a little more depth and focus to Helen's inner conflict and the final loss of Baby Bird which corresponds to the loss of her own child.

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