The Robin and the Red Thread.

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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

 This story has been published in the March 2014 edition of the Literary Journal ‘Toasted Cheese’. Please click here to view my story.


I’m pretty sure it was a Friday.

At the very least it was late in the week.

I remember because I like Fridays, not just because it’s the day before the weekend, every day is pretty much the same to me; I don’t ‘do’ weekends.

I guess it started because my dad taught a sparrow to trust him.

It took months and months but eventually this most distrustful of birds would land on my dad’s hand and eat crumbs. I always marvelled at my dad’s patience.

How many people do you know could convince a sparrow to trust him?

For months after my father died, the little bird would hang around outside the back door waiting for my dad to come out and feed him.

It broke my heart.

The little bird did not trust me; I wasn’t the right human, but he would come quite close, and I’d throw him crumbs.

I guess I wasn’t around often enough because gradually the bird came less and less until finally, he didn’t come at all.

I had other things on my mind. My dad was dead, my mum was distraught, I had a young family of my own to feed so I forgot about this brave little bird and went on to live my life.


Time flew by, and my kids were grown and off building families of their own.

I had time on my hands and a mind that would not behave.

Spending time in the garden seemed like a good way to pass the time.

A garden is different when you are actually in it. Looking at it through a window gives you a certain idea but sitting on a chair surrounded by it, is something else.

Slowly, you start to melt into your surroundings. You hear things that you didn’t notice when you first sat down. The birds and the bees seem to forget that you are sitting there and get on with living their lives.

As the years have gone by I, have noticed new species of birds in our yard as each new season rolls around but I have never seen a Robin, not until Spring a few years ago.

My wife had been working on the back deck, and there were threads left over from her project. A red thread had caught the Robin’s eye, and he was working his way toward it while keeping one eye on me.

My fascination kept me very still as the Robin picked up the thread. He stopped for a moment, looked directly at me and flew away.

My guess was he was building a nest and needed the red thread to impress his mate.

“Look what I got for you today dear, and right from under the nose of a human.”

I imagined her being very impressed.

The next day I put out another piece of red thread, but he didn’t come back. I was a little disappointed, but magic rarely happens twice in one week.

I left the thread where it was and when I checked a few days later it was gone, probably blown away by the wind, but maybe he had come back and collected it. The thought brought a smile to my face and brightened a particularly bad day. I imagined a small nest with two pieces of red thread running through it and a particularly proud male Robin sitting next to it. “Look what I made.’


A few days later I found myself in the yard again armed with a cup of strong tea. On the railing, about where the red thread had been was a small gold coin. I know it was gold because I showed it to a friend who collects coins. He said it was not particularly rare, but it was solid gold, probably a late eighteenth-century Spanish coin, worth about two hundred dollars, give or take.

There was no logical answer to how the coin got there so I concocted an illogical one; the Robin put it there as payment for the red thread.

You think I’m nuts; I can tell, but I don’t care.

That day I put out another piece of red thread and a few days later there it was, another small gold coin.

I thought about tying one end of the thread to my finger and seeing if the Robin was brave enough to tug on the thread in much the same way that the Sparrow had taken crumbs from my dad’s hand.

In the end, I decided to respect the Robin’s privacy, after all, he was bringing me something he thought I would enjoy in return for the precious red thread.

The ritual stopped at the end of Spring but started up again the next year and the year after that. Spring has begun again, and I’m patiently waiting for my Robin to return. It’s not about the coins anymore, I’ve got a trunk full of them and any way you slice it, that should see me through even if I live to a hundred. I just want him to come back because it keeps me connected to something special. A huge pile of small gold coins is rather special but having a deal going with a wild creature is something amazing.

I might be a bit crazy, but at least I know that one small bird likes me.

I’ve got lots of red thread, a big cup of tea and all the time in the world to just sit and wait.

Photo Credit:


31 thoughts on “The Robin and the Red Thread.

    • Thank you for your comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Gardens are wonderful places as long as someone else looks after them!!!!!
      It was my character who doesn’t ‘do’ weekends, but I must say that I do prefer weekdays……… not sure why.


  1. First every time I open your page I expect to see your old picture, the one you were lying with your dogs around you. But I like this picture too. Now about Robin and the Red Thread, it is beautiful, one of my favorite, especially at the end when you say: “I’ve got lots of red thread, a big cup of tea and ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to just sit and wait.”
    So heart warming for some on the other side of the world, who can sleep and opens her computer and read you writing, Thank you for lighting my midnight.


    • Thank you for your beautiful comments.
      There is something about this story that touches me also. I wrote it very late at night and you read it very late at night, i like that. Everyone in my house was sound asleep and the story wrote itself.
      As for my header photo; the photo I have been using is very small and it breaks up quite a bit so I thought I would find another shot to use. My son took the original shot about five years ago and the copy I have is very small. He was here last night and he promised to go through his archive and see if he has a larger file. If he does I will put the original shot back up……….. just for you.


    • Thank you, I’m pleased that you enjoyed the story.
      I’ve been holding on to that illustration for a while now. I knew when I first saw it that there was a story in there somewhere.


    • Good question. I probably did know that but it was not at the front of my mind at the time.
      I’m attracted by shiny objects if it comes down to it!
      Thanks for the comment, glad you liked it, it’s one of my favourites so far.


  2. I cried… I smiled…. and I read and listen again… I have never heard/read anything so beautiful like this. How can I express myself I don’t know, but birds, your Dad, and your amazing story impressed me so much… so much. November is my Dad’s last voyage to his endless place and there is another story with bird and my dad for me too. All of them came to my humble world this morning… I do believe invisible angels that they lead me to find your page and to live this moment… You are so beautiful… Thank you so much, for sharing this with us. I hope you don’t mind but I want to share with my blogger friends too. Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia


    • Dear Nia,
      I want you to know how moved I was by your beautiful comments on my story ‘The Robin and the Red Thread’. I read your words to my wife and she cried…… I got a little bit misty myself. It means a lot to me that a story of mine touched someone else so deeply. We both know what it is to lose a father and I hope that your grief softens quickly.
      Every writer lives for the day that they connect with their reader, and you made my day, thank you.

      Terry Barca


      • It happened to me too this morning and you made my day with your story. Thank you dear Terry Barca, “Every writer lives for the day they connect with their reader…” what a beautiful words. I am so happy now. Especially to be in this language I mean in my second language (that I am not so good) how made me happy… Blessing and happiness to you all, with my love, nia


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