She was just like her did she treated me like a child, like I was nobody. My own daughter did not agree or accept what I was doing. She did not have anytime for me, she was always hurrying my conversation making me feel little and unimportant. She dismissed my words when I told her about Alice and Steven making love in the garden. She then accused me of being possessive of clinging on to something that was not mine, Alice. But what she was saying to me was correct I had to let go I had to let her fly her wings and be free. She told me that Alice and Steven were to marry within a month.
I was shocked at what she had told me I could not believe that they were to marry and how lonely I would be. Tears rolled down my cheek and across onto my chin. My eyes were red with anger and the truth. The truth that I was to become a lonely old man. I stepped out onto the veranda and found that the garden was empty just as my life would be when Alice leaves. When Alice left my life was empty just like the garden on that afternoon. I had nobody to take any real notice in me everything was blank. I wanted my granddaughter to be happy but more than that I wanted to be happy and that meant not sharing.
I was full of selfishness and greed; I wanted Alice all to myself. Out on the veranda I spotted Alice and Steven walking towards me. I realised that my life was ending and hers was just beginning. Her life had just begun. She was getting married, her new life with Steven had begun she was now free, free from me. As they returned and approached me I remember them fussing over me. They seemed to be appreciating me acknowledging me. They probably knew what was on my mind, what was really bothering me. They had a new bird for me. The bird made me feel warm inside it made feel wanted.
My heart was opened up by a small gift. But I was kidding myself, they gave me the bird as a sop; they gave it to me to shut me up. Alice was never going to come back and visit me. I was to naive to realise that at the time the fact that she was simply humouring me. The bird was a beautiful young bird, with light gleaming from its breasts. I can remember it as if it was just yesterday. I remember stroking its sun-warmed soft back caring for it, loving it. Alice and Steven were trying to say that nothing will change, nothing could change and that they will stay with me forever.
The pair seemed concerned they had never seemed concerned to me before. Seeming them walk away to the gate I realised that what they had was serious and full of purpose. What is happening is only natural for a teenage girl. Her mother has had a wonderful marriage and she married at only seventeen. The pair seemed maturer about their relationship. I had seen a side to the relationship that I had never seen before, it was not running and giggling but it was true love. And true love never dies. It is only natural for the younger generation to forget about the older generation, what happened should have happened.
I had learnt to accept her and Stevens’s relationship. True it hurt me to see her leaves me but I had understood that she had to live her life in freedom and with her true love. Whenever she was around him she was happy they were happy together. She was never that happy around me. I showed my acceptance of their relationship by shutting up the bird I had been given and releasing another bird, my favourite. I loved that bird just like I loved Alice and by releasing it I symbolised that the pair were free, they were free to fly the nest. The bird soared it to the air its wings flapping like they had never flapped before.
My wrist was clenched in the pain of loss as I watched it soar of my wrist. A whirr and a spatter of wings, and a cloud of birds rose into the evening from the dovecote. At the gate Alice and Steven had paused their conversation and were observing the birds, on the veranda Lucy stood gazing, her eyes shaded by her hand that still held her sewing. It seemed that the whole afternoon had paused to watch the birds fly, that everything had stopped to see my gesture of self-command. The trees had stopped shaking, the clouds were no longer moving and everything had came to a halt.
I had by now sopped crying and my tears had dried. I looked at my birds. The cloud of shining silver birds flew up and up, with a shrill cleaving of wings, over the dark ploughed land and the darker belts Of trees and the bright folds of grass, until they floated high in the sunlight, likes a small cloud of dust. They wheeled in a circle and there was flash and flash of light and one by one they dropped from the sunlight into the darkness of shadow. One after another the birds returned to the garden and soon the garden was flooding with returning birds.
Symbolically, the light shining on the birds represents freedom and how now the birds are free just like Alice is now. I could not hide my delight in seeing my birds fly. Their beautiful wings flying them far away and into the sunlight and my delight in seeing them return home where they belong. This was what I had trained them to do to flyaway and to return to their home. They came back from where they had started. That was just what I wanted Alice to do, to flyaway and to return to me, to her home that has sheltered her for all of these years, and not to disappear like a poor homing pigeon.
She is a good girl just like all my birds are good and return. At the end of that day the birds returned to their home. They returned to their shelter where they are loved. I turned to Lucy to explain to her what I had done how I had matured and come to my senses. I smiled proudly down the garden at Alice; she was wide-eyed and pale. I was proud at the fact that I was letting her go and I was proud in the manor in which I had shown it, by releasing my favourite bird. I was also very proud at the skill in which I had portrayed.
How I have trained my pigeons to return to their home. That was one of the most proudly moments in my life, I had accomplished two things in one moment of defying glory. But I could not understand why Alice was crying. Were they tears of happiness, was she crying because she thinks I will let her go just as I let my favourite pigeon go. Were they tears of unhappiness, was she crying because she sees the birds returning to the shadowed earth as a symbol that she will never be free or that now everything is about to change in her life.
Maybe she was feeling pity on me. Feeling pity because I have never been free in my life. Those tears will always remain a mystery to me. She may be crying for a whole number of reasons, of mixed emotions. I learnt from that day that I was the childish one, I was the one that had to mature. She had a mature relationship but I couldn’t see that behind my selfishness. The clouds moved across the sun and erased the sunlight from his garden. He picked himself up and moved in the veranda. His mind was now clearer about the events of that day.
As he knelt down onto the seat, the phone rang; he had to answer it. But he was scared. It was fate that it would be Alice but she would not want to speak to him. She always called to speak to her mother. He wanted to speak to her. His legs became erect and without hesitation he dashed towards the phone, “Hello” he answered in a welcoming voice “Hello granddad is mum there please”. It was Alice she never wanted him as usual “No she is out, but will I do? Funny enough I’ve just been thinking about you”. The pair had not spoke to each other for a few months, he wanted all that to change.