By David P. Cantrell
This story is my response to a Picture Prompt Challenge. The image was contributed by Lori Brooks.
“I don’t want to go Momma. I like our home.”
“I know son, but it isn’t safe anymore. You saw the cat on the ledge over our nest. You should thank the heavens that your father frightened it away. You’re the firstling and must be brave. Do you want one of your nest mates to be eaten?”
“No Momma, but there are too many big and scary creatures around us, I’m afraid.”
“They are big, but don’t think of them as scary. They won’t eat us.”
“They don’t eat. That’s too weird Momma.”
“No son, they eat, I’ve seen it, but they don’t kill our kind as far as I know.”
“What do they kill Momma?”
“Nothing as far as I can tell, they display before one of their own kind and receive food in return. I think it’s food because they put it between their beaks and squish it several times before moving on to some unknown purpose.”
“Ooh, that’s gross Momma. Are they eating each other’s droppings?”
“I don’t think so, but I agree the ceremony is very strange.”
“Where are we going Momma?”
“Your father found a large pond for us and we are joining him there.”
“What’s a pond Momma?”
“Oh, they are beautiful places, Drake. I met your father at one. There is water to swim in and lots of food just waiting to be eaten.”
“What is water Momma?”
Momma stumbled. How do I explain water to my babies she thought. “Children, do you remember the day that the sky turned dark and thunder rumbled, frightening all of you?”
“Yes Momma they answered together.”
“Do you remember the cold drops that merged with your feathers?”
“Do you remember how good those drops felt?”
“We are going to a place made of those drops. A place your father found for us and the big creatures won’t stop us. They may even help us.”
And, they did. A police officer stopped traffic in both directions when he saw Momma leading her children across Fifth Avenue. Drake kept them in line from the rear, it was his duty as the firstling. The troop climbed over a rise and heard Father’s call. Momma responded and they hurried to their new home in Central Park Lake.
David P. Cantrell is an author and a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff.