Little envelopes pour out from the box. From the envelopes, little bones. Little joints. Feathers. Strings of muscle. Nerves. Nodes. Organs. Feathers. You inspect the pieces, and then complain that we should have ordered a real animal. Something big like a dog or a bear. You pop bones to joints. Thread muscle to muscle to muscle to feather to lung to muscle to nerve to muscle to bone. Vertebrae scatter off the table edge and are lost in the carpet. You ignore the instructions. The thing begins to take the shape of a hose. You attach the battery and the bird starts to twitch rapid and spastic without a brain to orientate it.

I show you the box and ask if the picture on it shows how sparrows should look. You assure me that you have seen sparrows, then open a jar of blue paint and dip a cluster of feathers. The back of the box estimates that the sparrow should take at least a thousand hours to complete. Before a half hour has passed you tape the esophagus along the edge of the wing. The excess, what hangs off the edge of the wing, you cut off and flick to the trashcan. I ask again where you have seen a sparrow. Remember how when we had winters, you say, how all the specks of birds would gather like clouds. I ask you to explain clouds.

You hand me an envelope and ask me to boil a pot of water. You connect the heart to veins and veins to veins to veins to veins that hang from one end of the bird. This is the flag, you tell me, all birds have flags. I ask you to explain flags. Instead, you show me the wishbone. You tell me that there are rules to wishbones. There must be two people with their eyes closed, leaving no more than a sliver of bone below where the thumb and index finger grasp. You slide the brain into the bird. You attach the four wings. You tell me, the two people must shut their eyes tight so that the wish will shoot from our wrinkled brows. And, to yourself in your head, but directed at the wishbone. You attach the leg. You tell me, you must never tell anyone what your wish is, not before, not after, not ever. Even if the wish comes true, because as soon as you do the wish falls apart. And, timing is important, both participants must wish at the same exact time; pull their end of the bone at the same exact time.

You staple the feathers onto the sparrow. You tell me, after the slight pop, you may open your eyes, but keep your mouth closed to prevent any chance that your wish will echo out of your brain. I look at our wishbone, snapped perfectly in the center and ask, now what? After you place the beak on the underside of the bird, it starts barking.

Chad Redden currently lives in Indianapolis, Indiana where he majors in Creative Writing at IUPUI. His work has been appeared in Sixsentences, Fiore, Biannicle, and [sic].

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Every Day Fiction

  • Beautiful juxtaposition between putting the bird together and breaking pieces of it apart. A lovely piece. Thank you.

  • This seems more surreal than science fiction, but that hardly matters. It’s very well-written, and transported me to an alternate state of mind. I’m not sure I “understand” it all, but that hardly matters either.

  • I enjoyed the process of constructing a bird immensely. Bravo! 5 stars!

  • When all else fails, read the directions! So that’s what they teaach in creative writting here in Indiana? Well it’s certanily creative enough!

  • Stacey Flynn

    That was lovely. I love the allusion to Emily Dickinson’s poem.

  • Margie

    weird, but so well written – who cares? 4 stars
    You lost a star,because of my lack of understanding of “what-just-happened???”

  • This is a delightfully written, completely whiskey-tango-foxtrot kind of story. I chuckled and my heart ached at the same time. BRAVO!

  • Bob

    I don’t know what to make of this, but I really, really liked it. So there.

  • Amy Corbin

    Super cool story. I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I couldn’t help loving it.

  • Cat

    I have almost no idea what just happened, but I ADORE this story. It is utterly baffling, but so beautifully written. I’m going to read it a hundred more times and try and figure it out. VERY well done.

  • Mary B.

    Like everyone else, I’m completely baffled. It made no sense to me. Usually that is an automatic fail, but for some reason it held my attention. I hung on every word and read to the end.

    I like it. And I have no idea why.

  • Paul Graham

    I don’t get the point and I like getting the point. Otherwise I wonder – what’s the point?

  • pd warner

    I loved this story – the tone, allegory were top notch and the distancing/reinterpretation of everyday things like wishbones is very effective and thoughtful. Great job!

  • Loved this. It was cute and funny and weird – all things I like. Awesome.

  • I loved the rules the child had around the wishes and that insistence on the (erroneous) claim of knowing what to do is very true.

  • Chishost

    An absolutely delicious read. Hilariously heart-breaking. Heart-breakingly hilarious. Plus five from me.

  • Pingback: Podcast EDF029: Building A Sparrow • written by Chad Redden • read by Matt Cowens | Every Day Fiction - The once a day flash fiction magazine.()

  • Mandi Priest-Redden

    I have always admired and adored the infuriating way your brain works Chad. It’s a fantastic piece.