“The Gift”

Albert’s life has not been the same since Eve’s death. After losing his beloved wife last September, the old man felt as if a part of him had died with her. She was his whole world, the sole point of his existence – and without her, living did not seem to be worth it anymore.

Everyday tasks turned into incredibly hard challenges and activities that used to bring him joy, now miserably failed to do so. Albert spent all cold winter days barely going out of his apartment, where he buried himself in the memories of the past. Leafing through photo albums, reading old letters, and browsing through cardboard boxes in search of items that would remind him of bygone happiness became his new routine.

There was one object that he was particularly determined to find – a golden watch that was an anniversary gift from his wife. He remembered wearing it every day a couple of years ago, but could not recall what made him stop doing so. After a few days of fruitless search, he finally accepted the loss of this precious piece of jewelry.

“Maybe that’s only for good,” he thought to himself. Perhaps accepting this fact would be the first step to getting through his grief and letting go of the past.

Days and months passed, but life wasn’t getting easier. Before he knew it, the snow started to melt and days were becoming longer. Albert spent hours sitting on an old wicker chair on his balcony observing his surroundings. Nature was coming back to life – small buds appeared on bare tree branches, daisies slowly spread around the lawn and birds wove their nests filling the neighborhood with cheerful twitter.

Oh, how the old man adored those chirping creatures! He could endlessly stare at them flying, watch their dark silhouettes cutting out from the clouded skies, and listen to their gleeful songs. As his fascination grew, he began to leave grain in little bowls on his windowsill, in hopes that this feed would entice a songbird or two, so that he could take a closer look at them.

He didn’t have to wait for long – the very next day on the other side of the windowpane a small goldfinch appeared. Albert carefully approached, cautious not to scare the bird, and watched in awe as the creature pecked the seeds. He was convinced he had never seen anything as beautiful. However, he wasn’t given a chance to appreciate this beauty for long – as Albert sighed, the bird got startled and broke into flight.

Encouraged by this success, he left the food the next day, and the day after that, until putting a bowl on the windowsill and waiting for his feathery friends to come became a ritual. Soon they started to bring Albert small gifts in return – shiny rocks, coins, and slivers of coloured glass hit the parapet as the birds dropped them before landing and burying their beaks into bowls.

The gifts were not always useless trinkets though. Once Albert received a key to the garage, which his neighbour had lost a week before and another time – a previously missing silver ring that belonged to the lady who lived next door.

The old man grew to enjoy his life once again. Everyday he woke up to the sound of birds’ singing and he felt as if he had something to wait for and he was anticipated by someone, or rather multiple little someones, as well.

On one warm spring morning, he was sitting on the balcony in his chair, enjoying the presence of his feathery companions when he heard something land on a windowsill with an unusually loud thud. Intrigued, Albert paid a closer look to a newly arrived bird. A goldfinch, as it turned out to be, brought him a gift, upon seeing which he couldn’t believe his eyes. It was a golden watch – his golden watch! A few tears of happiness streamed down his face as he put a precious item on his wrist and suddenly, for the first time in months, felt complete.

In summers and winters, the birds came to Albert every day to eat and thank him with a song or little trinkets, bringing joy to his heart and peace to his mind. Even when there was no one to put the grains out anymore, feathered little creatures did not forget the old man and the love he had for them and still brought little gifts to his windowsill for years. and years to come.