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A Siberian Story: Tag, You’re It

This one is for the fella on my palm

By emPublished 15 days ago 2 min read
Top Story - May 2024
22
Image by author's soulmate: my hand and my new feathered friend

Snow shimmers in -24 degrees. Trees that usually wear their forest green coats are dusted by frost, looming tall and piercing the pastel coloured sky like sentinels for a citadel of silence. Finland is made of frozen moments, standing so still in between breaths of icy air. It’s serene. It’s like a dream. It’s the most enchanting thing I’ve ever seen.

How can anything possibly survive in this? I wondered.

But amidst all the snow, I pulled a packet of sun out of my pocket and sprinkled sunflower seeds into my palm. I turned to Ben, grinning, white eyelashes fluttering in determination. Extending my arm to the watercolour sky, I whispered, "wouldn't it be wonderful if --"

Not if, as it happened, but when. And when was the end of that unfinished sentence, as my mouth froze not from the minus temperatures, but from the tiny creature that had landed softly on my outstretched palm.

A Siberian Jay.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one landed on me, I was going to say.

As light as his own feathers, legs like branches bare of lichen, his black beak streamlined and carved, yet delicate as he grabbed seeds from my palm.

The night before Ben and I watched an arbitrary episode of Friends in our Kelo log cabin. It was the only English channel, showing The One With Rachel’s Assistant, the one where Rachel hires her new assistant and future lover Tag. Now, standing in a gentle snowfall, frozen still and barely breathing so as to not blow my fleeting friend away, his little feet clutching the edge of my palm, I noticed a small yellow tag clipped around his leg, just above them. To recognise him amongst his feathered family.

So, we decided to name him Tag.

And Tag decided that, for that moment at least, I was worthy.

You see, hands are quite symbolic across numerous cultures and societies. A handshake is a welcome, a confirmation, an agreement. A hand to hold is a gesture of affection, comfort, safety. An outstretched hand is an act of kindness, care, it's a way of giving. A high five is a celebration. A clap, too. A thumbs up is a "yes, that's it, that's right." A wave says "I'm so happy you're here" and "I'm so sad you're leaving." The two-fingered peace sign speaks for it self. And we won't mention flipping the bird.

Because I didn't flip the bird, I supported it. Right there in my palm, he trusted me. He had every faith that I was using my hands for good. For comfort, for kindness, for security, for protection, for affection, for peace. For him. Sometimes, as a writer especially, I worry and desperately hope that I'm wielding my fingertips for a reason. To tell stories that enchant lives. To share experiences that immerse others. To bring worlds to our world, so that many can make a home inside of them.

In that moment, Tag brought his world to me.

Thank you, little friend, for turning my chilly fingers into a finite home, for a while. I haven't washed them since.

naturehumanityeuropeculturecouples travelactivitiesshort storyNatureHumanity
22

About the Creator

em

I’m a writer, a storyteller, a lunatic. I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon — but here, I am a writer, turning moments into multiverses and making homes out of them.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

Add your insights

Comments (17)

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  • angela hepworth6 days ago

    Amazing TS!

  • Anna 9 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Shirley Belk10 days ago

    Thank you for bringing this to us!!! Lovely

  • Novel Allen12 days ago

    Just a moment in nature. Short and sweet a story. Congrats.

  • Christy Munson13 days ago

    Congratulations on a richly deserving Top Story. 🥳 This piece is chilling, lovely, and (up until you said you hadn't washed your hand since), pretty close to perfect. Why on earth were you in -24 degree weather in the first place? I mean, better you than me. :)

  • Congratulations for the top story.

  • Andrea Corwin 13 days ago

    Oh beautiful - a lovely moment in nature to remember your entire life. A blessing! 🎉🎉T.S congratulations.

  • Natasha Collazo14 days ago

    Congrats 🎉 on TS!

  • Hannah Moore14 days ago

    This is a lovely read, thank you.

  • kp14 days ago

    absolutely wonderful. you're right, hands do and mean so much. tag's trust in yours makes for a beautiful lil essay. thank you so much for sharing. and congrats on top story!

  • Alyssa Nicole14 days ago

    I love how you capture such a wonderful moment! Congrats on the Top Story! 🎉

  • JBaz14 days ago

    I love how a simple moment turns into a lifelong memory

  • Monique Nelson15 days ago

    This is sweetness in a story, loved it!

  • Awe, Tag! Great work! Well written!

  • Babs Iverson15 days ago

    Sensational Siberian story!!! Love it!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Gabriel Huizenga15 days ago

    Loved this story when I first read it for the Snow Micro- fantastic as ever!!

  • Deasun T. Smyth15 days ago

    Incredible! Well done.

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