Let me start off by saying that this story had many good qualities, and I can see the amount of care you put into it. One does not just whip off something like this, with the attention to the flow of the sentences and the small, gentle way you built up your message about the passage of time. However, there were a few finer details that I'd like to point out as well.
The story, to me, felt a little too long for the way you wrote it. You included several metaphors (more on that in a minute) and told the story of two characters' lives, no small feat for a one shot. When stories are told like this, in what I suppose you would call a stream of consciousness way, the fragments of thought can only be sustained for so long. By the last third or so of the story, I was ready for you to make your point. You'd spoken about time quite a bit, you had a lot of little parts floating around (the addition of the fiery-haired children, for example) and my head was just swimming with all the ideas you were putting out there. This is a personal opinion, mind you, so it's nothing worth worrying about, just mentioning. ;)
Another thing that drew my attention away from the piece as a whole was the number of metaphors you included. From the title, I expected the whole thing to revolve around this image of a bird, yet you introduced it, left it, and didn't revisit it until the last quarter or so of the story. My mind kept wandering as I waited for the significance of the bird to really come to the forefront, but instead, you spent a great deal of time, on, well, time. ;) It's entirely possible that I missed something, but for the most part, I think I was just thrown off by your title. You also had a number of other, smaller metaphors, which worked. But once again, there are only so many things that can fit into a one shot like this, and personally I was spending a great deal of time just trying to keep them all straight in my head when what I really wanted to do was absorb the story as a whole.
Those were the two major things, and I hope I've done an okay job of explaining them. Other than that, this was skillfully done. You dealt with a heavy subject delicately, you built up your characters' identities slowly, and your word choice was well done. In fact, it was the simple ones that I liked most, such as this one: "Fifteen years means nothing now. Fifteen years would mean it all." The whole atmosphere of the story may have been the best part of all, in my opinion. It never wavered for a second.
So, overall, a successful story. The things I mentioned were just things that crossed my mind that I thought might be helpful to know, at the very least if you attempt a similar story in the future. Once again, I could really appreciate the care and detail you put into this, it was evident. Nice job.
Author's Response: First of all, let me thank you for this great review. It is really helpful and I'll think of all you said :)
I actually wrote this for several days, trying to make sure it was smooth and understandable, so I imagine that affecting the pace.
It was based on the quote for a challenge, and so I did spend a lot of time pondering on time, teehee. And I see how I forgot a little the bird metaphor, I thought giving it tail and beak, but as more metaphors flowed it messed with the proportions I guess.
I don't think I could get rid of the extra metaphors, but you're right about the lack of conclusion! I guess I just don't know it myself, but I'll think of it.
Once again, thanks for the very complete review! Me needz CC :3