The One

There were more than twenty of them, small, black birds with yellow eyes, hopping through piles of fallen brown and yellow leaves in an earnest search for something, like, maybe one had dropped a contact lens. As he walked along the sidewalk, they flew to keep ahead, but unable to sustain their search because of his progress, they finally all took off.

Except one. One was left behind. Or did he stay behind? Did he — or she — remain behind because they’d become distracted? Maybe it was a young bird who was still learning how to be part of the flock. It could also be that it was a rebel, an old codger bird who said, “I’m not flying because of him,” or a young bird who said, “Let’s see what happens if I don’t fly away.”

Or maybe it was a sacrifice that the others provided, to see what happened if they didn’t fly away.

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