Ruby’s First Flight
Chirp! Chirp! I heard my family. They were all calling me and signaling that it was time to go. All of them were tirelessly waving their pale-yellow feathers with blue and purple patterns. I glanced down at my own body and saw that I still had very pale beige feathers. Mother and father had told me I still had a lot of time to grow up, and soon have strong bold colored wings like how my mother and father do. I sighed and took another glance at my feathers. They were very small, and fragile. Once, I had tried to fly from my top tree bunk, and to other side, but I fell, and my wing had almost broken! If I couldn’t even fly for 5 seconds, then how was I ever going to fly in such a large distance! My wings couldn’t handle being up above for such a long time! What was my mother and father even thinking? I knew I was going to fall down the second we start our journey; I just knew it. I wasn’t feeling too good about... anything in general. But I couldn’t argue with them, the weather was getting colder, and we weren’t getting proper shelter because the leaves were falling.
My wings were starting to get a little frozen. It was like a frostbite, but on my wings. I couldn’t move it back and forth because it really hurt me when I did that. Looking very worried, I went back to my room, the top branch. Our entire flock was also not getting enough food. There wasn’t sufficient food for us babies. We Woodpeckers always stayed together though, no matter how difficult the situations might be. There were about 20 of us, each of course, in a different family. My mother and father were the group leaders, so my 2 brothers and 3 sisters took full advantage of that. Everyone usually stayed away from them, because... well, let’s just say that they weren’t the easiest people to get along with.
They are also rude, and sometimes can even physically harm you... so hold your wings tight, because they might break it. Trust me, I am someone from a lot of experience on everything they do. One time, when I was trying to fly, they mocked me and makes fun of me for not doing it properly.
“Why do you even bother Ruby?” asked my eldest brother, Ace.
“Why can’t you believe in me? Believe that I can fly, like all of you? I know that I will be able to fly soon, it’s just that I can’t fly yet. But I promise you, I will.” I talked back, my eyes were staring at him, filled with anger.
“I can prove to you that you can’t fly.” Ace spoke.
“How? There is no way you can do that! Well... maybe in your dreams I guess, but no other way.” I proudly said, with my chin held high.
“Oh yeah?! Well then, I guess I’ll have to show you. I will push you, and if you really know how to fly, you will be able to fly back to your branch, if you fall down... well that just means you know nothing about flying, and that you’re going to get hurt really bad.” Ace said, feeling so confident.
I didn’t really think he was going to push me that hard, after all, I thought that since he was my own brother, he would take it a little easy on me, but no, I was greatly mistaken.
“3... 2...1!” he shouted.
“Wait, I’m not ready!! Wait...” I started talking, but Ace interrupted.
“Too bad, because I am ready, and excited to push you!!” he smirked with an evil chuckle following it. I remember, gulping very hard, feeling all knots in my stomach, and just to tell you, not the good kind.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ACE!! HELP ME!! I... I AM FALLING!! PLEASE!! CATCH ME!! ACE YOU’RE RIGHT, I AM NOT GOOD AT FLYING, NOW WILL YOU PLEASE HELP ME!!” I hollered so hard, that I had brought everyone’s attention to me.
“Oh, sorry! I guess I can’t... I’m too busy, looks like you’re going to suffer all on your own.” he whispered, though it was very quiet, I heard it perfectly, each word, pricking me.
Let me tell you, that fall was dangerous, painful, miserable, and scary! From that day onward, I decided that I hate two things in my life. Number 1 is that I will never fly again in my entire life, and 2, I hate Ace. I mean... would a real brother really let a 2-week baby bird get hurt like that? What had I ever done wrong to him?! That had happened a week ago, and my feather still has a large cut going across it. Every time look at it, I shiver, with fear. I remember that terrible moment in my dreams, making them a nightmare. I remember it all the time, like I cannot get it out of my head. Now, since we had to move to the south for favorable climate and food, I didn’t know what to do. There was no excuse that I could use, I had to fly. Like the other baby birds, I had to learn. I couldn’t be afraid, I had to be bold, be strong. Still, fear had held me back. If I could just... somehow forget that horrible moment in my life, I would have felt a little bit more confident to fly. Now, there was no getting out of it like before. I couldn’t be selfish, I had to think about our flock, about my family. Our 4 leaders had passed away in 1 week because they were getting no food, sacrificing for me, and the other baby birds. Also, they couldn’t protect themselves during the strong winds, which had been occurring for the past 2 weeks. They were getting weaker and grew more tired by each passing day, until, well... they were gone.
Our flock was gathering all the food they could get. Things such as nuts, lots and lots of fruits such as berries, sap, water from the rain and the leaves, and insects. Though I generally didn’t prefer eating insects. My favorites were always acorns, nuts, and berries! They taste just wonderful! Only I like them though, everyone else goes crazy for the insects... belch!
That was the condition of our flock now. We were losing our leaders and there weren’t much people to protect us from any harm. I could spot my mother and father, collecting all the nuts they can. My sisters were picking berries. So were my brothers. They were also collecting things like acorn and apples. The worst thing was that whenever it rained, all the water would drop on us! There weren’t any bushy leaves to comfort us anymore. Only some color changing ones, but they were blown away by the harsh wind. There were only twigs, sticks, and branches. Nothing else.
On the bright side, the place where we are heading towards has everything needed for a perfect survival, or at least that is what mother, and father say. They were trying hard to comfort me. Saying that they believed in me, that I could fly, maybe even better than the rest! I tried to soak up all those good words and tried hard to ignore my siblings, and those nightmares I have. I tried to focus on the positive side of flying. The feel of seeing the entire land from up above! That was a wonderful sight! The way you fly against the wind, making your little fur feel so cozy and pleasant. The way you feel so free and relaxed when flying. Well... obviously, I haven’t felt or experienced any of this since the most amount of time I could glide up in the sky, was less than 5 seconds! Those were all the stories which I had heard from my sisters and brothers. My mother and father had also told me these things.
They would also say this to me, “You know Ruby, the best thing about us birds are that we are the only ones who get to fly. We get to see the land above us. Feel the clouds as we glide and soar through the sky. I’ll tell you that once you start flying, you will never want it to stop. That is the true beauty of us birds. Just telling won’t really help you imagine what we feel but doing it... experiencing these emotions, then you will understand that flying isn’t dangerous.”
I would try to picture myself, flying and gliding through the air, feeling so happy and joyful like mother and father would tell me. Imagining the clouds going through me, seeing how small and wonderful the land would look that high from the sky. Oh... that feeling would be so amazing! I would love to experience that. I decided that I wasn’t going to be scared anymore, tomorrow when we were going to the south, I would be the one leading our family flock. I had a strong feeling, that I was going to be able to fly.
The next day...
I couldn’t believe that today was the day!! I was feeling so hopeful, and at the same time excited! I wondered which place we settle once we reach.
I pondered to myself,” Will they have big and lush trees, like we had here? Will they have lots of berries and nuts?”
I took a lot of deep breaths, in and out. I was going to be able to fly. I could just feel it in my wings, the rush of energy. Mother and father were standing behind me, giving me encouragement, and support, unlike my siblings.
“You can do it Ruby! I know you can!! Fly! Ruby fly! Never look down, always concentrate up ahead. Feel free Ruby!” my mother and father cheered and roared.
Hearing their voices, everyone else gathered.
“Come on Ruby! Come on! You can do it. Remember when mother and father said, don’t look down, just look straight ahead, and feel free. Fly!” I encouraged myself.
I flapped my wings, really hard. I closed my eyes, and before I even knew it, I had taken off, up in the sky. Everyone else cheered behind me, and we had set forth to the south. Once I got comfortable with the height, I decided to look down to see the rivers, lakes, and streams which had all surrounded the forest. I could see all the bare trees, but mostly I could see the ground fully covered with many, many leaves. I thought they were so pretty. When I looked behind, I could see my entire flock, smiling at me, and feeling proud. I guess that there was nothing to be afraid of!
I felt so proud of myself too. I felt the cool wind rushing to my face, making me feel so relaxed and like a free bird. I remembered all the things my mother and father had told me, about seeing the clouds, and the experience of gliding through the sky. This feeling of flying the first time made me think of all the other things that I could learn to do and hopefully succeed. I guess I was stronger than what I had thought about myself. But there was one more person I needed to speak to.
“Hey Ace! Come over here.” I called him.
He reluctantly flew next to be, feeling embarrassed he said, “Yeah. I guess you were right, our little Ruby can do anything. I am sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I should have captured you when you were falling. I would do anything for you to forgive me. I was a terrible brother that day. Could you... please forgive me?”
“Well... of course I can! I am not a person who holds grudges. But don’t take that as an advantage. What you did that day, it was bad. But, thanks for owning up you’re mistake and saying sorry. It really means a lot to me.” I replied.
“Thank you Ruby.” Ace told me.
From that day, I loved to fly. I was a brave bird, like mom and dad had said, I was Ruby.