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Old 09-23-2006, 05:12 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3
Default The Cardinal

Hello, I am new here! I took a break from writing for about a year, but I think I am making a comeback! I wrote this piece about a year and a half ago, but just spent 3 hours tweaking it. Let me know what you think, PLEASE! Constructive criticism is GREATLY appreciated. THANKS!

"The Cardinal"

His parents told me that as a boy, he would gaze at the sky for hours on end, cerulean eyes and dark lashes making his face look wondrously youthful. I could picture with amazing clarity the faded jeans, slung low across his hips and the oversized maroon sweater engulfing his then skinny, five-foot frame. Clammy hands were clutched tightly behind his back as he watched the birds glide through the heavens. He loved them all; yet, he favored the beauty of the blood red cardinals, their cheerful trills forever beckoning him closer.


I love him.

My mother would often say to me: “No, no. He much too full of water, not enough fire. He need fire.”

I’d grown up with her Chinese ways, learned to accept them as a part of her. She was always full of advice, full of answers that I normally took to heart. But just this one time, I didn’t listen.

I have no regrets.


I was washing the dishes from last night’s dinner when the doorbell rang. Drying my hands on a dish towel, I sighed. It was early; I hoped the person at the door was not trying to sell something. I was tired of turning people away, tired of seeing their crestfallen faces when I said we weren’t interested.

On my way to the door, I caught a glimpse of the police car in the driveway.
Fear pulsed through me. My mind raced. Christian, our son. Thomas, my Thomas. Were they okay? Dread seemed to pile up around my ankles, preventing me from getting to the door. Every step felt like an eternity, a lifetime.

When I opened the door, the officer must have seen my wild eyes. Yet, he didn’t bother comforting me, didn’t bother telling me that everything was okay, that there was nothing to worry about.

“I’m so terribly sorry,” he said, eyes filling with sympathetic tears, “Your husband––”

Terror ripped me open. I was falling, falling. The ground no longer seemed to support me. My world was caving in.

“Wh…what happened?” My lips trembled, contorting my words. Nausea had a vice-like grip on my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick.

“He was involved in a 3 car pile-up on I-95. He didn’t make it. I am so sorry, ma’am. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.”

I wanted to fling myself at the man on my doorstep, wanted to pound him with my fists; it wasn’t fair that he was alive. Screaming, I threw myself against the door frame, wanting to make my body hurt as much as my heart did.

Much later, I would feel sorry for the officer who dared come, but for now, I was showing no mercy. The pain in me was too great. Then, everything was black, a blissful, tranquil black of numbness.


Christian took the bus home. He knew something was wrong the minute he saw me standing at the doorstep, waiting for him. I had stopped the ritual after he asked me to, a year ago; he’d said that the kids on his bus always teased him about “his mommy wanting to make sure her boo got home safe.”

Upon seeing my tear-streaked cheeks, Christian’s eyes threatened to spill over with tears of his own; but, he held them in, refusing to let them cascade down his cheeks. Already he was a man.

“Christian, your daddy’s gone. He won’t be coming back, okay? He loves you very much, but he won’t be coming back.” A new round of sobs ripped through me as Christian encircled my waist with his arms and pressed his little seven year old body to mine.

We cradled each other for a long time, his warmth comforting me in the coolness of the setting sun.


Four years. It’s been four years, yet the pain has never ceased. Time has made that day a continuously fading memory, but my heart has never stopped bleeding.

I watch as Christian rhythmically moves through the monkey bars. His still childish laughter echoes through the crisp autumn air. He glances over periodically, making sure I am still on the park bench, wrapped in my favorite wool shawl.

A gleeful song interrupts my reverie, and I tear my gaze away from Christian’s sanguine face, flushed with exercise.

The bird is blood red, the tips of his feathers black, like the mask that nearly covers his eyes. He perches daintily next to me on the bench, his yellow beak sharing his joyful story. His ebony pupils dance merrily as he hops from foot to foot in an impromptu dance, and I can’t help but smile. I sit quietly, scarcely breathing, entranced by his magic.

To my delight, he hops even closer, continuing his beautiful melody. He chirps once, twice, thrice, and takes off, his feet tucked gently underneath him. It was then that I knew.
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Old 10-17-2006, 10:35 PM   #2
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this is really good, i like it.

i really enjoyed reading it. loved the way u discribed everything.

good job!
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:28 PM   #3
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Your descriptions are amazing. Especially at the beginning; I felt right in the story. You did a great job! Ok, so some constructive criticism: It seemed rushed starting out when we found out the main character's husband had passed. For some reason I felt like the same feeling the story started out with had died down, it didn't seem as fresh and unique. But it definitely picked back up at the end. That's about all I can think of, so nice job!
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