Unexpected Kindness

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected knock on a window.... view prompt


Friendship Adventure Fiction

   Arlen tapped lightly on the window, in bird form he needed to do so with his beak, and he felt awkward and a little sheepish as he tapped away. Still, as soon as she heard him, she rushed toward him, seeing him, she smiled and opened the window wide. He had not planned on coming tonight, nor had he planned on tapping on her window, he had just wanted a look. Just wanted to make sure she had gotten into the castle and was safe. He was not yet ready to admit that it was the warm feeling that she inspired that had brought him back tonight, she had smiled at him and now he was hooked.

               “You found me again, didn’t you my little bird. I’m starting to think you are my personal protector.” She beamed at him, and when she pulled the dinner roll from her sleeve and tore it in half, placed it before him, he was touched. No one had bothered to show him any kindness in a long, long time. He ate a piece, remembering the texture and taste of bread that he had not had in years and years.

               Mostly he stayed away from humans, all they did was hunt and destroy. On more then one occasion he had caught bands of poachers trying to intrude on his domain and he changed them into the very creature they were hunting. It had required taking on his human form, his magic worked better as a man, but he resented them even more for making him do it.

               His human form was painful, the memories and bitterness fresh every time he went back into that form, would assail him, weaken him. He felt the rage like a fire burning through him each time he took back his original form. The loss of his sister, his mother, all at the hands of that weak, pathetic creature he held cursed by the lake of tears. His true enemy and his lifelong task.

               At first, he had enjoyed tormenting the little prince, he who had enjoyed everything, while Arlen had lost all, but a hundred years is a long time, and he soon became bored with the usual games that boys play. You can only hog tie some one so many times before it becomes routine.

 After a while, Arlen simply stopped bothering, only checking on his quarry from time to time to make sure he remained cursed and trapped forever. The rest of his time Arlen spent in bird form now. It was easier, simpler to live as a bird. Food was easier to come by and crows need not dust or make tea or wash dishes. Life as a bird suited him just fine, he thought, until he saw her, all alone, wandering the paths of his forest.

She was lost, that was clear, but she wasn’t scared as he had expected. Instead, she sang little songs to herself about how she would find her way out, when she heard a howl in the distance, she shivered but sang about how it was a nice wolf and wouldn’t hurt her.

 It was kind of cute, he decided and swooped down for a better look, landing on a branch above her head. She looked up surprised but when she saw him, she smiled. To his immense surprise that smile warmed his heart to a temperature he had not felt in a long time.

He shook it off, unused to this feeling, but decided to help the silly creature any way. He flew down, swooped around her, and flew in the direction she needed to go. She stopped for a moment, unsure of what to do. Arlen shook his head slightly and flew back to her, swooped around her again and flew towards the castle. This time she followed and soon she saw the lights ahead. She laughed with relief and ran leaving him behind, in the dark and the cold. Before she reached the gate she stopped, turned and waved. He heard a faint, thank you and watched as she disappeared behind the castle wall.

As he flew back towards his tower, he chided himself on his actions. What kind of evil sorcerer helped people who lost themselves in his forest? He should have turned her into a piglet like he did with all the people who had the nerve to enter his domain without his permission, yet instead he had helped her, brought her home. He recalled her sweet little voice as it trilled her little songs and couldn’t help but feel warm. A feeling that was spreading through him, making him panic a little.

Halfway back to his lonely home, he landed on a thick branch and changed back into his human form. He made himself comfortable and gazed up at the moon, letting the grief and pain wash over him, as it did every time he came back to himself. He needed a clearer head to deal with this unexpected new feeling in him. It was warm, and good, two things he did not think he would ever feel again and inside a storm raged, a battle between the new seed growing and the cold dark pit of hatred that had ever been his home.

               When the sun began to rise, he found that he felt lighter somehow, as though in the night some of the heavy burden of his promise, his curse, had lifted just a little. He changed back into a bird and flew towards the castle instead.

               It took him most of the day to work out which room was hers, he waited until night fell and the castle was readying itself for sleep before he worked up the courage to fly to her window.

               He watched as she bid goodnight to her tutors, and her caregiver. Waited until she was alone before he found himself tapping, hoping she would hear him and preying she did not. He wasn’t even sure why he was here only that in her presence he felt warm, and he was beginning to like the feeling.

               She beamed at him and opened the window, placed her offering before him and stood back. Her pleasure at his company obvious. He ate in silence, savoring every bite of kindness until only crumbs remained.

               “Come back tomorrow?” she asked, hope in her pretty green eyes, and he bobbed his head and chirped at her. He was hooked, he knew, and he smiled in his mind, grateful for the first time in a long, long time. 

June 10, 2021 14:55

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