Birds in the desolate sky

Sreten S Petković

A story form the novel Rembrandt, the miller's son


Out of blackness through the cleavage, as if frozen by an empty thought, came the blueness of the sky, motionless. Scenes followed each other in quick succession in a sequence that I could not comprehend in a maelstrom of colours, light and darkness.


Silence prevailed. Since it rose, rays ablaze, the sun was stifling movement to all living things. A bird was flying in the distance or was my memory only playing games with me? The flapping of its wings could hardly be perceived, but it brought joy into the emptiness. The joy of movement.


I found a place, hidden from unbearable heat, under the crown of a big oak, but with a view of the sky and the bird in it. Now I could see two of them, chasing each other.


Was it the instinct of self-preservation that drove them to devour each other? Perhaps it was only one bird chasing its own shadow.


I wrinkled the brows and squinted to sharpen the vision and take a better look of what was happening in the desolate and torrid sky. And I saw the birds or shadows merge and flow into the zenith. There was no room for both of them in the empty and immense sky. One had to disappear into the other. As if they were people. As if the human mind had created them and they had disappeared from it. Black haze filled the empty skies once again in this morning of vivid recollection.


Scarce is space for reason, just as it is scarce for light in pervasive darkness. Silence is the time needed for a thought to last. It is an apprehension, a premonition and hope, all in one.


Things that happen in life too fast seem to be half-said, insufficiently ripe. Only later do we realise how important it is that they happened exactly in that way and exactly at that time.


Like on that stormy night in the mill where I fled the bad weather outside and a tempest in my soul. When man ends up with innumerable questions to which he knows no answers he seeks salvation in loneliness.

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