An Uncaged Bird
– Fiction by Thomas Mooney –
Honorable Mention in the Dreamers Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest.
A chick on a board. Rise, drop, hot wheels singin’, the wind in her hair. Ready for Scarecrow man – break on your board, slide under his skinny arm. Calls her Sugar, wants her sugar, just like Uncle Cyrus. Not about to get it.
Pump, pump, glide down Center Street. Trash day on Maple. Keds nestled to the board, still light as air. Kickflip over the tipped barrel; knew she could. Pump, pump, glide.
Home now, late again.
Uncle Cyrus cussin’, tryin’ to break her down one more time.
“Damn, Maya, where you been? Makin’ me late for work. You’ll pay for it. Get to cleanin’ that mess in the yard. Gonna get rid a that damn dog of yours.”
Tryin’ to hold her; tryin’ to keep her; tryin’ to trash her. But she’s the uncaged bird that knows how to fly. Her wings aren’t clipped and her feet aren’t tied, and her board does the singing.
Sittin’ with Latrice outside bungalow 2, listenin’ to her same old song. “Girl, you look bad. That old geezer got his hands on you again. He never gonna quit you know, till he gets what he wants.”
“Uh, huh. All there is… and Bosco.”
“He’ll be at you ever day. Cookin’ and cleanin’ for him. You no pussy woman.”
“Lock my door, can’t get at me. Keep Bosco in there, too. Don’t want to mess with Bosco.”
Rides down Center Street, swings ‘round Scarecrow man. She’s Earth Daughter, jumpin’ the black clouds all about her. She’s like a night without stars, dreaming heavy dreams, waking to a day still dark with Uncle Cyrus.
But there are things he doesn’t know. Her heart is deep in song, her mind filled with freedom. She is a rainbow that can’t be clouded up. She is the hidden star that keeps shining.
Uncle Cyrus home from work early. “You clean that mess in the yard, girl?”
“Yes, I did.”
Uncle walks to the kitchen. Checks the sink, the trash bag. Nods his head, “Uh, huh. You mop this floor?”
“No, din’t need it.”
“Your Uncle been workin’ hard. Come and watch some TV. We be relaxin’.”
“Got homework, Uncle.”
“Let that go for a spell.” Points at her. “Come over here, we be lazin’ on the couch.” Flops down, takes up the remote. “Watch your favorite show. You choose.”
She knows what’s comin’. Been down that road before. Not about to happen again. Heads for the back door.
“Damn you, girl, come back here.”
“Takin’ Bosco for a walk, Uncle.”
Uncle cussin’up a cloud. “I’ll get rid a that damn dog. You’ll be sorry.”
Rides her board, Bosco leadin’, grinnin’ and pantin’ the way he does. Knows what she’s thinkin’. “We be smarter and faster than that ol’ man,” she says.
Pump, pump glide down Maple. She’s the wild rider singin’ her songs, arms flung out in a cry of freedom. No sugar for Uncle Cyrus today, not tomorrow, not ever.
Home again, pops her board. Lets Bosco in the back yard. Opens the screen door. Uncle waitin’, grabs her arm.
“Let me loose!” she cries.
“Need to show some respect, girl. Uncle teach you.” Shoves her in his room. “Take off them clothes.”
“No, no, Uncle, please! BOSCO!”
Screen door slammin’, Bosco flyin’ into the room.
Uncle shoutin’ “No, No!” Bosco clampin’ jaws on Uncle’s arm. Uncle screamin’.
Maya rushin’ out the door. “COME ON, BOSCO!”
Uncle stumblin’ out after, holdin’ a bloody arm. Voice like thunder. “You little bitch, don’t you never come back!”
Maya and Bosco sittin’ on Latrice’s stoop. “He did what? No! Momma that dirty ol’ man tried to stick his thing in her.”
Momma grim. “Afraid a that. We call the police. They be runnin’ that ol’ bastard in.”
Maya shakin’ her head. “Police not comin’, Momma, you know it.”
“Maybe so, child.”
“What we do now?” Latrice ask.
“Don’t know,” Maya say.
“What you mean don’t know. You be stayin’ with us.”
“What about Bosco? Say you don’t like dogs.”
Momma sighs. “Lots’a things don’t like, girl, but put up with ‘em anyways.”
Chick on a board. Rise, drop, hot wheels singin’. No one tryin’ to hold her; no one tryin’ to keep her; no one tryin’ to trash her. She’s the freedom girl dreamin’ sweet dreams, her heart filled with music, her rainbow forever shining.
And she has a board that sings her songs.
About the Author – Thomas Mooney
Thomas Mooney writes flash fiction and short stories that feature persons who have overcome life or work situations where they must struggle to survive. The protagonist could be a farm worker at the mercy of a cruel landlord, or a child raised in the ghetto with little or no parental support, or a gay or lesbian son or daughter struggling against a homophobic parent. An English and history teacher, Thomas is married, has two beautiful daughters and a supportive wife.
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**This story by Thomas Mooney received an honorable mention in the 2019 Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest.
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