A little bird sits on the sidewalk, rain pouring violently down on her fragile, little body.
The usually busy streets are now empty, no people, no cars, no lights to illuminate the water that has made the road its domain, washing away any and all foolish enough to dare go outside.
A brutal storm unlike any ever witnessed in that concrete and steel metropolis, yet the bird remains, sitting on that sidewalk, unmovable.
One man though, an old, homeless man with a worn, almost leathery face, walks up to the bird and sits himself beside her.
The bird looks at the man and the man looks back, a crooked smile on his face.
They simply sat there in the rain, rain that never once let down, never once deterred from claiming the world below as its own.
“Shouldn’t you be inside with such weather?” The old man asked.
The little bird looked at the man, her body being pushed down by the sheer force of the rain falling down.
“Come, you can take shelter under my coat.”
The old man opened his coat and held it up, the little bird quickly hopped underneath and collapsed from exhaustion.
“It’s a good thing I came by, you seem tired.” The man said.
“So, tell me, why are you here, my little friend? Waiting for someone?”
The bird nodded for as much as she could muster with the little strength left in her body.
“It must be someone very important then, if he or she made you risk your own life out here in this storm.”
The little critter looked up, thanking the man for his kindness.
“No, no, don’t mention it, I couldn’t possibly ignore anyone, man or otherwise, in need of help. Hell, I’d be no better than the others!”
The man laughed loudly.
“Just kidding, just kidding, I can understand why others would leave you and me here, just two fools risking their lives for reasons they could not understand.”
Slowly but surely the bird crawled closer to the man, laying her head against his thigh.
“Ah yes, do cuddle closer if you wish, it is quite cold out today. Here, let me dry you off a bit.”
The man took an old, gray rag from his inner coat pocket and dried the bird’s feathers, very gently.
“That should help you out a bit. Sorry for the dirty rag but I don’t really have anything else.”
The bird nodded as if thanking the man.
“Don’t mention it.”
They both sat there for many minutes, silent, watching the thundering water going by, the occasional tree or car being dragged far away by the strong currents.
The darkness would’ve made it hard to make anything out were it not for the faint, flickering lights in the windows of the many skyscrapers by the sides of the street.
“Quite the brutal storm, haven’t seen anything like it in many years.”
The man felt a poking against the side of his body.
Black, beady eyes filled with a sense of curiosity looked into his.
“Oh my, indeed, how rude of me. I never told you why I am here outside in this ungodly weather.”
The man shuffled around a bit, trying to find the most comfortable way to sit on the stones that made the sidewalk.
“I, as well as you little bird, am waiting for someone, though I have yet to figure out who.”
“Even so, I’ll know the person when I see him, or her for that individual shall remind me of someone once very close me, someone who passed away recently.”
The bird looked at him, sympathy in her eyes.
“No need to feel sorry for me, my small friend. I have accepted her passing, for as far as I could at least.
A fragile, little creature she was, much like yourself, who cared more for others than for herself which, as you can imagine, spelled her downfall.
As me, she was homeless and always short on food, money and other items vital to ones survival.
When I first met her, sitting at the side of the road, she was so skinny, so weak. I took her to an old, abandoned service tunnel, gave her some food, water and a warm bed to rest in.
For many days she simply slept, the poor thing, waking only to eat the food I gave her.
After the seventh day she awoke and spoke, which we continued for hours on end.
She told me how she had lost her parents as a child, how she was raised in an orphanage but, on her 16th birthday, she was forced to leave.
Having no place to go she wandered through the land, always looking for food or work, both equally hard to come by.
Others have helped her, other people in the same situation as her, who understood her struggle, who gave her food and advice on how to survive, how to steal, how to cheat.
She refused though as she never did value her life above others which kept her from taking what did not belong to her, kept her from doing harm to others.
That poor fool, she would prefer to bring to herself before anyone else.”
A loud bang shook the two as a billboard floated past, ripped from the side of a building.
“Bloody weather, I hope no one else is foolish enough to venture outside.
But anyway, as I was saying, all of her misfortune was simply due to the fact that she could not, would not bring harm to anyone but herself.
Having heard this I told her that I’d be looking after her. That if she ever needed food, water or anything else she could drop by.
She thanked me and went on her way, coming back regularly over the span of a year to rest and eat. I didn’t mind very much, she was good company and I have always gotten much joy from helping others.
But, one day, she never showed. Then another day, and another.
I grew very worried and started looking for her. I would search all the alleyways and night clubs, I would ask people I knew and complete strangers if they had seen that woman, nothing…
It took me four days to find her, more dead than alive by the side of a violently rolling river in the pouring rain. She was ill, seriously ill and needed medicine fast but, as you can imagine, there was no way that I could afford the medication she required.
There was nothing I could do, except steal.
I went out one day, simply out of desperation, and robbed a local pharmacy.
Waiting for the owner to leave, I then threw in a window with a brick, taking only the medicine that I, that she needed.
But, when I returned and showed her the medication, she refused to take them.
She refused to let me save her life because the medication was stolen.
Because it was stolen…
She was in constant pain yet did not dare to touch the medicine that would save her life because she believed she was not worth it, not worth the effort I had taken, not worth the pain I had brought upon the store owner.
She even asked me to give it back to the man and apologise, which I refused at the time.
It didn’t take long for her to pass, three days to be exact, after which I buried her on a small island which lies in the river beside where I had found her in her ill stricken state.
Afterwards I returned the medication I had stolen from the store, even if I doubted whether they would choose to use it, I did it primarily for her, to try and make up for the bad I had done, to do her one last favour.
It has been three weeks since then, three weeks without her.”
The little bird looked up at the man, a tear rolling down his cheek.
“Even for the brief time that I had to get to know her I was more fond of her than anyone I had ever met in my life.”
The man and the bird now sat and stared, stared at the water violently raging past.
“I do hope you find whom you’re looking for, my friend.” He said as he took a piece of bread from his coat pocket and gave it to the bird.
“If you ever need a place to stay, or a meal, you can come by my place if you want. I’ll always have some food and a bed ready for you.”
The bird nodded and crawled closer to the man as a glimmer in his eyes, a glimmer of hope lit up like one of the lights flickering in the tall skyscrapers by the side of the road.