Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Feeling of Falling

Out of the sky, the little bird dropped. She'd been shot right out of the sky while soaring freely, unbeknownst to her that she'd entered duck hunting territory, the bullet going through a foot and wing.

She plummeted fast, and hit the surface of the gigantic lake below, her unconscious self unable to prepare for breaking the surface cleanly, instead hitting it as if she'd flown into a window at full speed.

She regained consciousness, faintly aware of not being alone. She opened her eyes and found herself laying on a makeshift raft in the middle of the huge lake. She sat up in alarm, seeking a shore, but with the vastness of the water around her, it was the same as if it were the Atlantic ocean.

Then she realized that there was a duck on the raft. He was chewing a strand of grass lazily, watching the horizon as if he hadn't a care in the world.

'Um, hello?" the dove ventured.

'Hello. How are you feeling now? Better?' the duck laconically asked.

'I...think so?' the dove then remembered what had happened before she had fallen and the pain suddenly became prominent. She winced as she tried to extend her injured wing, but it lay limp and useless by her side. 

A tear dropped as she realized what this might mean—that she, who loved flying more than anything else, might never experience the wonders of the sky again. She huddled at her end of the raft, a cold and wet bundle of misery.

'Here,' the duck proffered a bundle of leaf toward her. She shook her head miserably, and remained as she was. 

They drifted that way for some time. The duck seemed quite content to scribble designs in the surface of the water with a piece of twig, artwork that disappeared just as soon as it was created. 

The sun sunk and disappeared. The dove dozed off and woke, disoriented, in the dark. The duck was still sitting up and nodded a silent acknowledgement to the dove.

'Aren't you going to sleep?' the dove asked.

'No, I don't really sleep much,' he replied, rather shortly.

The dove's eyefeathers furrowed in confusion — didn't all birds go to roost in the night? What was this duck's story?

'Why not?' the dove asked. 'And why are you even sitting here? Why don't you just fly home?'

'I flew away from home and ended up here. This is good enough for me,' he said.

'Good enough for what? Don't you have a flock to return to?' the dove was curious, and for some reason she felt a very odd affinity to this fellow stranger. It wasn't that she hadn't conversed with a duck before, of course she had, but this one was rather less quacky than those she knew.

'My flock is what I flew away from. They wanted me to migrate with them and I wasn't really ready to spend all that time with them.'

'So you're on a raft in the middle of nowhere?' even though she really liked flying, this kind of solitude rather appealed to her.

'Shh, look!' he nodded over the edge of the raft.

She scooted over and peeked over the edge. Schools of fish were swirling just below the surface, as faint light dawned over the horizon.

'Whoa!' she watched as the strange creatures swarmed over one another, a mass of open mouths as they fought one another in an alarming display of antagonism and false bravado.

'They're losers,' the duck rolled his eyes. 'But they kind of keep me company, and I can watch them without really being one of them.'

'Hmm,' the dove was thoughtful. 'Why don't you go get some breakfast, I'm OK being alone for awhile. You don't need to babysit me.'

'No, I'm good,' once again he shut himself away. 

'Why,' she tried teasing him. 'Are you scared of flyinggg?'

'Actually, yes.'

She was shocked. A bird afraid to fly? She tried extending her wing again, and it wouldn't cooperate. A lump came to her throat. What would she give to be able to fly again, and here he had all the chance and he just took it for worse, just wasted it.

She once again bundled herself in a forlorn heap and slid into a deep, tormented sleep.

She woke up suddenly, something was hitting the raft on one side. She looked around, the raft had hit a shore!

She tried standing, but the pain in her injured foot was unbearable, and she sank down again once more. Then she realized, the duck was gone.