A Short Story by Denelyn Catbagan
Light spilled into the darkness as a little girl opened the package, a smile breaking through her face like she had just found a treasure. She picked me up and gazed at me warmly.
“Papa! I found it!” she said.
A man appeared next to her beaming with pride–I recognized him. He was my creator. He had folded me and shaped me. Made my paper wings and beak with such care and love.
“Make her happy, my friend,” he whispered, as he hid me in a box.
I don’t know why he would talk like that to me. I was useless, a paper crane incapable of doing anything. Protect a smile? How could I do that? Yet, now, as she held me in her hands. I felt like my life suddenly had a purpose. She carried me and played with me as her father watched, delighted with her happiness. My world became colorful with her by my side.
But as the days go by, so do the happy times. Her father had gone, and she succumbed to her loneliness.
“You didn’t keep your promise!” She cried out. She hid me in a trunk, forgotten and decrepit.
They left there me. I kept wondering and wondering if there was something, anything I had done wrong. I was as useless as I had thought, and I felt guilt weigh heavy in my fragile heart.
Did I not keep my promise?
I waited and waited, even as my body started to mold, even when I start to lose my vivid color. I kept believing that she’ll be back.
One night, I had a dream–a memory of when he had made me. I could remember him writing something in my body, but I couldn’t read it. Black ink seeped into my paper body; the ink felt cold, yet; I felt honesty and love within these symbols. I wish I could speak and ask him about it, but I can’t speak or talk for I’m just a mere origami that he made for his daughter.
The next day, the trunk opened, and I saw her face again. She had changed. She became a beautiful lady now.
She scavenged the trunk for a phone, long forgotten like the rest of its contents. She continued to search until she finally noticed me, a small paper crane in the trunk’s corner. She picked me up and examined me. She, at first, thought of me like nothing and was about to throw me away again.
I panicked at first and tried to calm down. With the little strength inside me, I tried to move and shake until one of my folds became undone.
That was when she noticed the strange symbols inside me. She unfolded me revealing the writing inside. Tears began to form in her eyes as she saw the strange characters.
That when it dawned on me–I made her cry. I began to blame myself as she cried, thinking I was useless and terrible. Her hands held me tightly, and she ran out of the open doorway.
A woman saw her and hugged her, but I couldn’t care. I kept thinking I was terrible. Maybe I shouldn’t exist. Maybe I was just a mistake. I wish I could have stopped him.
The girl cried, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother reassured her and said, “I see that you found it. Don’t worry, your father loved you too. I know he has already forgiven you.”
They held each other for a while as she held the handmade origami crane her father made. Though the little paper crane thought of itself as useless, it accomplished something of great relevance to her life.
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