Monday, March 23, 2009

Blood Red Feathers

In a small little farmhouse, on a small little farm, there sat a solitary cage, with a white turtledove inside. The small yellow farmhouse with its bright green door stood basking in the afternoon sun, the brown dirt road baking between the groves and stands of olive trees. In the gilded cage the dove raised her head and gave a low coo.

“What is it Hope?” asked the little boy, squatting on the floor with a small beetle in his dirty hands.

“Amos! Where are you?” called a low woman’s voice.

“In the house Mamma!” he answered as he stood and fed Hope a few crumbs.

A woman in a large blue dress with a white apron came bustling into the small room of the farm house. Her sleeves were still pulled up from washing the laundry outside and she wiped her red, wet hands on the white apron. Her normally contained brown hair was hanging out of her bun in several places as she rushed in.

“Come here! Quickly, my son!” she called as she pulled him to her and held him close.

Something about the way his mother held him made little Amos feel frightened. Her heart was pounding and as he looked up he saw a tear fall from her cheek.

“What’s going on, Mama?” he asked looking towards the window.

“They have come.” she said as she held him close to her again.

“Who, Mama?” Amos didn’t understand. No one could take him from his Mama.

“The same men who took your Papa away.”

There was silence in the small farm house as Amos and his mother walked across creaking boards to the latching window. Outside, the sweltinerg summer sun baked the earth and the groves so that heat waves danced across the world. And then little Amos saw them. They were walking between the trees. He saw the men dressed in shadow.

“Mama we have to go! We should run! Here, I’ll take Hope and you and I can escape out the back!” The small childish hand grasped at three of her fingers.

“No. Your Papa tried running. It didn’t do him no good. They’ve already circled the whole house.” Mama said as she showed Amos the dark figures in the woods behind them.

“We can’t just give up Mama! There has to be something! What if I hide!” Amos said as he began pulling at the floor boards.

“Its no good. I took you and hid you as best as I could. We’ve been hiding from them for years now. No ones has ever laid eyes on you Amos. And still they found you. No, there is no place to hide anymore. Today hiding and dying becomes the same things.”

There was a rustling from the gilded cage. The white dove was thrashing wildly in her cage, beating feathered wings against hard iron bars. Amos ran to her, but even as his small hands opened the latch to take Hope out, the bird settled on the ground and convulsed before going deathly still.

White feathers, sticky and wet with red blood floated to the floor and stuck where they landed. Amos stood opened mouthed, wide eyed, tears coming unbidden to the corners of his dark brown eyes.

“There, there.” Mama said as she placed a work worn hand on his shoulder. “They killed her. They had to. With her as our peace offering, we could have appealed to the King. Then they couldn’t take you. But now. Now Hope is dead and so is hope.”

“What are we gonna do Mama?” asked little Amos with teared streaked face.

“We will smile. We will face our fear and our future. Wherever they may take you, you will smile. You will be strong, my little Love. You will be strong and you will smile and none shall know that you’re Hope has died.” Mama spoke as she wiped his tears on her apron. “Because Amos, you are like Hope there. You do not see it but for many you are their Hope. You cannot die as well. So live, smile, and bury your Hope.”

Then the men in the dark capes with the pale faces came. They took little Amos. He never saw his Mama again. He never saw the farm again. And he never stopped seeing Hope’s bleeding feathers before him again. He escaped from the men with the dark clothes and pale faces and became a man. He became strong and he smiled even when his Hope was dead. And he stopped the men in the dark clothes from ever taking anyone else again.

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