Young Writers Society

The Birdhouse Out Back

by waywardxwanderer

The birdhouse on the tree out back was hand-painted and had been home to many over the years, though none tended to stay for long. It was hand-painted a light, nostalgic purple and put together sloppily, nails jutting out and wood split and splintered. Still, it was this small birdhouse I said goodbye to the day I left my childhood home.

Our new house in Georgia wasn’t as lovely as the one on Signal had been. The grass was less green, the creek smaller and grayer, the trees small and faded. In this new state, a new home with walls that had never held love in them before, I tried desperately to find some place to fit in - somewhere to seek the magic that had been in my every day before.

By the time I’d grown used to this, I began to have dreams. Each night, my mind would go somewhere else, a portal to the life I had once had, though it was more beautiful than I had even remembered. The houses were huge and red, the trees dappling the sky with their autumn shades (though it was not autumn beyond the dream). The creek was huge and beautiful, and the statues in the forest were as crumbling and mysterious as ever. In the backyard, still, was the birdhouse.

This world was beautiful. I wandered the streets in awe, splashed in the water with bare feet, even met up with my old Signal friends on the steps of a gargantuan, splendid church. I played with the gilded specks of light in the air, and in this new and otherworldly loveliness I found comfort and fun for the first time since the move. Still, in the morning, I woke up to the drab mundanity of our new Georgia home.

A couple of years later, we moved to another house about a half hour west, and our first Georgia home made its way into the world in my dreams. In this new Georgia was another fantastical creek and majestic backyard and plenty of adventures to go around. I found myself living just to go to sleep at night, to visit the dreamscape I’d constructed of my fanciful idealisms of the lives I had once led, and it never occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I had taken it upon myself to romanticise the things I no longer had. Instead, I daydreamed about this other world when awake and fully delved into it at night. Though it held magic and sights and places I’d never seen in the waking world, I couldn’t help but wish to go back where I started.

My wish came true. My father learned that he could work remotely, so we packed it up and headed back to Signal Mountain. My excitement was unattainable, indescribable, and I simply couldn’t wait to have this proper magic in my life again.

Still, when we returned, the colours were the same as they had been in Georgia. The trees were just as tall, and the houses were smaller than I’d remembered, the grass more faded, the flowers less abundant. It wasn’t something out of a fairytale. It was something out of a world where magic is hard to come by and harder still to forget.

The realization struck me then, and only then: I’d deceived myself. Told myself that the world held so much that it truly didn’t. I’d convinced myself that the world was, really, so much better than it looked through a car window or the eyes of someone older and less prone to flights of fancy. And I blamed the world for letting me down.

These last few years, I’ve caught glimpses of the magic I once believed in, and, despite my unwelcome epiphany, I still visit the more beautiful world in my head. That magic is out there, somewhere: it’s just that when you grow older, you have to look harder for it. It’s taken a long time for me to come to terms with this. The birdhouse is not as beautiful or well-put-together as I thought it was, and the pride that used to tint my glasses rose when I looked at it is gone, but it still holds beauty in it. There are still memories and hard work I put into the birdhouse. There are still traces of the friends I worked with and laughed with while building it. So right now, I’m looking. I’m writing and bringing the beautiful world in my head out into my waking one. I’m searching the waking one for clues, hints of pixie dust, birds in a birdhouse. 

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32 Reviews

Points: 166
Reviews: 32

Sat Apr 30, 2022 5:43 pm
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saadamansayyed wrote a review...

Hey! Really excited to check out your essay. It's been a few days since I did a literary review (I just turned 13, woohoo!), so, my reviewing hand's been quite rusty. As always do remember that you can feel free to disregard any feedback wherever appropriate. Also, I am doing a stream-of-consciousness review, so there might be contradictions since I am pretty dumb (that should be evident) and I do sometime change my opinion on a book (ask many of the unfortunate writers). All that fluff out of the way, let's dive right in to your essay.

So, we start on a somber note. As a reader, I have to appreciate the way you do this. It is simply commendable how emotionally attached we are, just right off the bat.

However, there is some adjectives right there that are redundant. MissGangamash pointed them out very well in their review but to paraphrase: shorter is better.

Also, I also want to know: What's nostalgic about purple? (Unless, of course, you were a Real Madrid fan like me.)

The dreams are seriously tear-jerking. As somebody who's shifted like 5 times during my 13-year-old life, this happens again and again and its as painful as it was the first time. Leaving behind the friends and the atmosphere.

There's some disappointment in the later paragraphs -- it just is very close to home for me. Um, as they say, the grass is greener on the other side. At this point, It feels like I'm not reviewing but like, talking to you about how much I relate.

Ok. So, that was quite the emotional tangent that I went on. But, let's get to the point. I think your writing is quite evocative, and honestly, with a little bit of conciseness, your works are gonna make the coldest heart cry itself out. The problem, I think, is conciseness. You have fallen into a trap of purple prose (which is not always bad, evident by this story) which makes it perfectly fine, but from a reviewers perspective, flowing and unnecessary descriptions are a little bit irritating.

Honestly, I want to say a few things to you. The magic never left you. The magic is not because the leaves were redder, the creek bigger, or the church grander, in my opinion. It is because of the people you met, and the experiences you had.

I feel I want to leave it that, once again, thanks for sharing this absolute beauty of an essay.

this is an older piece and I've been working on conciseness since then (hopefully with some success), so I'll definitely rewrite at some point. thanks for the criticisms, they're super helpful! also, the question about the nostalgic purple definitely helps because purple is such a nostalgic color for me - every time spring came, my favorite flowers were the tiny violets that would always sprout first, and I would spend a lot of time just looking at them. that would definitely be a cool thing for me to add, thanks! also, I'm glad this spoke to you (: thanks so much for the review!!

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289 Reviews

Points: 304
Reviews: 289

Sat Apr 30, 2022 4:15 pm
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MissGangamash wrote a review...

Hello! Here to review and kick this out of the Green Room!

'The birdhouse on the tree out back was hand-painted and had been home to many over the years, though none tended to stay for long. It was hand-painted a light, nostalgic purple and put together sloppily, nails jutting out and wood split and splintered.' - the repetition of 'hand-painted' is redundant. You could just say 'It was a light, nostalgic purple.' But also, what's nostalgic about purple?

'creek smaller and grayer, the trees small and faded.'- again, repetition of 'small.' I do like how you the theme of using colours for your descriptions.

'The birdhouse is not as beautiful or well-put-together as I thought it was' - at the start, is it said to be sloppily made when she left it, so surely she remembered it being badly made? Or maybe I'm messing up the timelines, which I will say is rather confusing throughout.

Is the narrator looking back after already returning to her childhood home from the beginning or are they taking us on a journey from her first home, to her second, then third, and then back again? Where is the narrator at the start of the story time-wise?

I like that the narrator built the birdhouse with their friends, that's a nice memory and adds to the significance of the birdhouse.

Overall, I like the symbolism of the birdhouse and their memories of their old house. It seems the MC is looking back with rose-tinted classes. That being said, for this to all work, you need to work on what I said earlier about rooting your narrator in a time and a place.

Hope this helps!

ohh I literally didn't notice that!! thanks so much for the review!! and it's a personal essay so, having all the times and places in my mind, I think I forgot to establish them for people who Aren't Me

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6 Reviews

Points: 42
Reviews: 6

Sat Apr 30, 2022 10:59 am
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Bita wrote a review...

Wow i really enjoyed reading this. You described getting older perfectly, it's very relatable. Everything really does seem different when you're a child and the word "magic" captured it perfectly. Also I love how at the end you wrote that the magic is still there, you just gotta look for it. As a reader that gave me hope. This text reminds me of the quote "Happiness comes from whithin you". The describing of the places was really good, I got a clear picture in my head while reading.

Thank you so much for the review!!

I’d heard he had started a fistfight in one of the seedier local taverns because someone had insisted on saying the word “utilize” instead of “use".
— Patrick Rothfuss, A Wise Man's Fear