It was on a Saturday afternoon that I sat alone on a worn, wooden bench listening to the sounds that the park had to offer. I listened to the runners as they passed me by, their panting at a quicker beat than their feet; I listened to the creek, thick as molasses, flow down the bend, hearing the faint drip as it rolled over the concrete ledge which made the artificial fall; I listened to everything, but none were as soothing as the birds that chanted their tribal songs into the autumn air. Each bird that lay hidden within the thickets of leaves in the highest reaches of the trees seemed to be single, part of something bigger than itself. Before, I had thought that birds were too primal to be aware of such unity, too stupid--but the accuracy with which they sang led me to believe that, not only were they aware, but they were masters. 

It was at this point I was certain they sang only for me.

Then, after a few minutes had gone by, I finally noticed a nagging that stood out sharp against the soft melody I had previously succumbed to. It was a terse, gasping cry; and the birds, having heard this foul sound, left their boughs and branches before scattering about the sky, leaving silence in their wake. Searching out the destroyer of my private symphony, I found it to be nothing more than a small bird, a sparrow perhaps, stuck within the wire fencing that lined the trail, designed to keep bikers and wandering children from entering the brush. This wounded bird, fluttering about in the metal trap, cried out for anyone or anything that could come and help it from its misery. And it would not be too hard either; all that was needed was to lift its leg, its wing, and it would be free.

But I could not bring myself to do it. I reached my hand out to grasp the thing, but with each inch I drew closer, it let out its helpless bleat and my hand would retract another two inches. I looked around to see if anyone could help me, but failing to find another soul, I walked back along the trail to my car, its vile wail resounding in my ears and mind.

Brendan McCourt is a Philadelphia native and student of both English and Philosophy at Arcadia University. He has been writing stories and poems for the better part of four years. His influences include Camus, Garcia Marquez, and O'Hara.