Paper Bird

By: Angela Lombardino

This is the story of why I became a pilot. I wasn’t ever really fascinated with planes or their mechanics, nor did I ever buy one of those build-your-own model airplanes when I was little. I was fascinated with the flying part, flying out in the big open sky for miles on end. 

My love for flying began when I was five years old and my mother and I moved into her childhood home. The house was in the middle of farmland, stood three stories tall and was a faded blue. I remember the first day in my new home; curiosity drove me to explore every inch of the house. My feet scampered on the wood floors as I wandered up and down the halls, starting from the first floor and making my way up to the third. The third floor was smaller than the other two. There was only one bath, one hall closet, and one single bedroom. Even after all these years, I will never forget the third floor bedroom. 

When I opened the door, I found nothing particularly interesting about the room and was about to leave to explore the rest of the house when I noticed the walls. They were covered from top to bottom with bird print wallpaper. The birds were simple enough, each one just plain white. What was interesting was not the birds themselves, though. It was the lack of one. There, on the wall near the window, was one missing bird. I couldn’t fathom where the bird had gone or why it had left in the first place. As I explored the rest of the house, my little mind kept wandering back to the missing bird on the third floor bedroom wall. It wasn’t until I asked my mother later that day that I discovered the story of the missing bird. I remember my mother looked at me, simply smiled with that loving smile and told me it all began when someone left the window open . . .  

Years ago there was a big house with farmland as far as you can see in all directions. The house stood three stories tall and was a lovely bright blue, and in that house was one very special room. That special room was the third floor bedroom, and it belonged to the farmer’s daughter. The room had printed wallpaper with snow white birds all across the walls. Two of those birds dreamed of flying away. They would look out the window and dream of flying out into the big open sky. Of course it was only a wishful dream, for how could a bird made of paper ever fly? Still, day after day they dreamed, until one day the window was left open. 

A breeze flew through the room, blowing the curtains and ruffling . . . a feather? There on the wall, on the wing of a bird was a feather, a snow white feather on a paper bird. Another breeze came and the paper bird’s wing began to move. The wind came soaring into the room, the curtain touching the ceiling, looking almost like clouds. The paper bird began to shake and move and suddenly he leapt off the wall. The snow white bird, no longer paper, flew out the window and into the big open sky. It left no trace of its existence but an empty spot on the wall and a single white feather on the windowsill. 

Unfortunately, the second bird was left behind. The second bird tried with all his might to fly off the wall and into the air, but the window was once again closed. For many years the bird stayed on the wall still dreaming of the sky as he always did. Only now, he also dreamed to one day to be reunited with his friend. 

“You mean the bird is still on the wall in the third floor bedroom?” I asked my mother when the story had come to an end. 

“That’s right, Elizabeth. He’s still waiting for the day to join his friend in the sky.” Without a second thought, I ran up to the third floor bedroom. When I reached the room, I found the room no longer roamed my mind, but now had a place in my heart, where it took the form of a story that had not quite found its ending. My eyes landed on the wall, on the place with the missing bird. I realized the bird was never missing, it had only found a new home in the sky. I ran across the room to the window and with all my little might, I flung open the window. 

The breeze started to fly into the room, through my hair and the curtains. I felt like the paper bird as the wind surrounded me. It was as if I had wings that could carry me away with the wind. I closed my eyes as my imagination turned me into a bird, flying in the big open sky, through a curtain of clouds and even farther for miles on end, until I could no longer see the old three story house and its faded blue paint. I stayed until the bright blue sky turned dark and the stars stared down at me, blinking in curiosity. 

The next day, when I returned to the room, I saw that two paper birds were now missing from the wall. I walked further into the bedroom and found, on the windowsill, a single white feather. The wind flew around me, it guided my gaze and told me to look out the window. When I looked, I saw two snow white birds flying through the sky. They flew together, side by side, like old friends. Circling one another, they spun and twirled through the air. Their wings embraced the warmth of the sun and the breeze of the wind. I stood there, looking out the window, dreaming of flying through the big open sky.