Maximum Ride: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings


Life on the outside, or rather, on the inside is so unbelievably sad. I had mother and Ella and Total, but whom else? Who else can understand the mourning of this bird-girl's mind?

I, Maximum Ride, am keeping more than just my depression a secret from everyone. What I knew from Itex could change the course of the world, forever. I can't tell anyone.

Who would believe me anyway?

I regret to inform everyone that I do not in any way shape or form own the characters from Maximum Ride.

Depression. What an odd and complex yet very destructive word. It being the most widely common mental illness among teens and adults alike, its icy cold clutches has resulted in hundreds of thousands of self inflicted injuries and deaths.

I am of no exception to these statistics. I'm just not the suicide type.

My name is Max, by the way. Maximum Ride. If you haven't heard of me, either you have been living under a rock or you're a brain-dead vegetable.

Three years has past since that day the flock and I brought Itex to its knees. I had fulfilled my purpose by saving the world and then we literally left the place in rubble. After that, and many, many hours of screaming arguments, we eventually all agreed to do the damn near impossible.

We stepped out of the shadows and exposed ourselves to the public. If I had to sum up the complete reaction of the media with only one word, it would have to be this:

Chaos. Trust me on that.

People, humankind in general, were quite lax and a bit more willing than we expected to accept us into society. Even with the constant media attention, scientists and medical practitioners, FBI units, and the occasional nut job looking us up, we were all right in fitting in. I have lost count of how many talk shows and televised interviews I've been on. Expressing in extra-fine detail on the scumbags back at the School and Itex. Medical and Human Genetic Research books had to be rewritten in our honor.

As a whole, people just could not get enough of us, our genetically altered quirks, and of course our certain avian appendages. Yes, I mean our wings.

We can fly in public now, full-view, no worries. We had no limits. No fears. Going where the wind blew, wherever we wanted, with hundreds of amazed and bedazzled eyes staring up at us from the world far below.

That is. We used to. Just not anymore.

For two years, we lived together with my mother and half-sister, Dr. Martinez and Ella. She actually offered to take us all in. I mean, she even offered to take in Iggy for crying out loud! We never got over that little joke. With her, we were all so happy.

Big family dinners, marathon cookie bake-offs, long hikes, late night flock flights, pointless, mindless gossip with Ella and Nudge, and long awaited catching up and talks with mom.

Life was so good then, almost like a dream. In reality though, nothing ever lasts for long.

Social services came to the house with legal papers to take the flock away.

My flock. My family. My brothers and sisters! The only ones in the whole wide scary world I could ever trust and have my trust in return.

It seems Angel and Gazzy's parents came out of the gutter they were spawned from and launched into a sobbing verse of how their precious children were kidnapped from them at birth, and how they want nothing more than to have their "little angelic darlings" back. Gazzy knew the terrible, ugly secret, but Angel eventually coaxed him into giving them a chance. Not until after I had to give her a small talk about her giving them a chance first.

Iggy's parents were actually trying to sue mom for custody over him, and mom was poised and ready to counter, but Ig stopped her and went willingly. He knew and had often said that this day would come, but who knew it would happen so soon?

Fang and Nudge were the only ones without parents to claim them. Both of their bio-parents were dead. Fang's mom supposedly was a teenager when he was born, so she abandoned him. Nudge's parents were terminated. In other words, killed to be kept quiet. So they were placed up for adoption. I was in mix emotions when I heard how soon two families came along and bought them. Just like that. Like birds at a pet store.

It was just too sudden. To unexpected. To unbearably sad to face.

So now, we were split apart. Total, our "beloved" talking dog, was with me, though. Angel's mom was allergic. So I wasn't entirely alone, but even with the mutt, flying above the majestic red-clay cliffs and breathtaking Rockies on my own felt so wrong. I was out of sync with the world.

One year had crept by so agonizingly slow, every second of the day piercing my skin like a dagger when I wasn't with them. When I couldn't' see their faces. Their smiles. Hear their laughs. When I couldn't hold them in my arms when they were scared and tell them "everything will be okay". It ached so badly to only be able to hear their voices through the receiver of a phone. How I couldn't reach out and touch them.

We had no means of physical contact. Just phones, email, IM, and our occasional loving "shout outs" to each other when we were on set of another talk show or Reality TV hitch.

I was so alone, so broken, so missing, and trapped. Stretched thin by strains not of battle-brought but of the tedious repetition of normal dinky human teenage tasks. School, chores, homework, extra-curricular activities, students, and the occasional yet slightly recent bullies. I've lost much hope and my usual defiant demeanor and will. Depression has its ever so icy cold clutches latched firmly onto my mind, but another part of me kept me from suicide.

A part of my mind was burdened with something no other teenager should ever in their entire lives have to bear. I knew something horrible, a terrible, disgustingly horrible secret, and yet I refuse to utter a single word. Of all the interviews I have taken and all the journalists I have spoken to, all the dirty little secrets of the School exposed, there was always the one thing I left out. That one dreadful secret that if uttered, many lives would be at stake.

As much as it hurt to bear, I knew deep within my heart that the flock's separation was for our own good. More for theirs than mine. For if I uttered a mere whisper of it to anyone, they would be targeted and taken out. There was something else out there. Watching us. Tracking us. Marking down everything that we did. I knew this.

Itex was only the beginning.

The world was about to be Reborn.

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