One Last Gift
War and strife, that is all the little dove has known as she sat quietly in her covered cage.
Since she was young, the dove was used as a way for the English to communicate with each other. Many knew how she had flown bravely alongside her pigeon colleagues throughout her many missions. But she had never been faced with such an undertaking like this before. Retirement. She had completed many flights and saved many lives, for that was her purpose, her drive, her mission in life. But now, what was she to do since the war was now over? She pondered these thoughts as she sat in her small, covered birdcage. She then heard footsteps coming near her and perked up, wondering if it was Sergeant Williams coming over to give her a pet, however, it was not him.
“Load her up! We need to leave quickly,” one of the privates yelled to his underling as the dove’s cage was picked up quite violently and lifted into one of the rooms on the ferryboat.
She flinched but still stayed quiet when her cage was slammed down. Her wing was still smarting from the bullet she had received only a month prior. Another slam came from when the private underling shut the door. Now alone, Dove had time to think.
When will Sergeant Williams come? He should have come by now, she wondered, remembering his promise of sourdough breadcrumbs if she delivered the message safely. Still she silently waited as her cage started to rock back and forth. The rocking made the dove tired and enveloped her in an uncomfortable and light sleep. Her dreams were filled with the rattle of bullets and the concerned look on Sergeant Williams’s face from the last time she saw him. Right when she felt like the strange nightmares may never end, she was awoken by a loud thud and the sound of people yelling.
“Quickly offload the cargo! You, standing over there! Get Sergeant Williams’s belongings and give it to that boy,” the private yelled, pointing his meaty finger at a young man.
The next moment the door slammed open again and her cage was once again picked up and quickly carried off the ferryboat. The covering on her cage, which had made everything dark, was suddenly thrust off, exposing her to the bright light of midday. She squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light, and she saw a tall figure that looked like Sergeant Williams.
“Good to see you again, Mr. Albert Williams.” The private said. “ We don’t have anything for you from your father except for this note and his bird. She may not look like much, but she helped to save many lives during my years of service. Her name is Dove.”
Albert just stared down at Dove with disgust and anger as he grunted and violently grabbed her cage as well as the letter. Before another word could be said, Albert quickly strode away, cage in hand. Dove looked up in concern toward Albert as he grumbled to himself and unlocked a nearby car. Inside sat Albert’s mother, who wore all black and was dabbing at her eyes with a white handkerchief.
“Oh, you’re back already, my son? What did they say?” Mrs. Williams asked in fake hope that this was all a lie.
“It’s true. Dad’s gone and all he left for us was his stupid bird,” Albert said with a sniff as he hastily loaded Dove into the car.
Mrs. Williams wept bitterly at the news that her husband and the father of their only son was gone. They were silent the rest of the way home. Only the rumble and growls of the engine filled the air as they sped along an empty dirt road. On arrival Albert hastily grabbed Dove’s cage and trudged toward his house. He set Dove down near a window and sat in a chair nearby, facing a fireplace. Mrs. Williams then left, giving Albert some space to think.
“I-I am so sorry Dad.” Albert cried alone after he made sure that his mother was gone. “ I know you were never a good father, nor even a good person in my life, but this was still too soon.” At that moment Dove started whistling the chorus to “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” the song Sergeant Williams had always whistled to her when she was sad. She didn’t understand or know why Albert was crying, but by a bird’s intuition she started to sing.
Albert sat up in surprise at hearing the song his father used to sing as a lullaby before he left. He slowly turned around and stared at Dove as she happily sang the sweet melody that had defined all of Albert’s childhood before his father disappeared. He opened Dove’s cage, and she happily hopped onto his hand before he even had time to react. He gently took her to the seat and sat back down. At seeing the letter, Dove perked up as it reminded her of her prior purpose in life.
She hopped over and grabbed the letter on the armrest of the chair and then brought it to Albert’s hands. He stood shocked for a moment, not knowing what to do, so she started to peck at the letter. She somehow knew that this was what Sergeant Williams would have wanted, for her to deliver this last letter.
Albert hesitated for a moment before slowly opening the letter and carefully reading the contents. After a long while of reading, Albert laughed a little, realizing that his father had always loved him but just didn’t know how to show it.
“Looks like he left us for each other, Dove,” Albert said with a sad smile. Dove also suddenly realized that this was the last mission Sergeant Williams assigned to her. Now her new mission was to be the companion Albert had always needed.
Madison Kohltfarber is a tenth-grade student who is an avid reader and writer. She aspires to one day be an author and loves to write stories as a way to relax.