I stood atop the empire state building as the winter breeze briskly filtered through my soft feathers. I looked at the extravagant view of New York City. So majestic, beautiful, and breathtaking. It was so sad that I had to say farewell for now. As the temperature continued to drop, it was time for our family to go to our second home until winter went into hibernation. Florida.
The rest of my family, relatives, siblings, parents, and fellow redwings gathered together to admire the last glance of our summer home. Tall buildings painted the landscape as cars drove far below. Patches of emerald green were placed precisely throughout the city adding color to the dullness brought by the stone cold structures. Life buzzed as people continued to live out their lives unaware of the annual migration about to occur above them.
Our leader, Skye, soared up into the wintry air and signaled all of us to follow close behind. Just as we heard the call, we all leaped into the air and took flight. My wings flapped swiftly beside me, propelling me further into the air. I weaved in and out of the fluffy, white clouds that decorated the winter sky. My spotted belly chilled as the coldness wrapped itself around me like a frosted blanket. It got colder as each minute passed by.
This journey was not going to be easy as winter approached much quicker than we anticipated. Snow clouds formed in the sky as we all flew by creating fear in our chilled bones. Would we make it before the first snowstorm took place? We usually departed from New York in early September, however, our journey began just as September came to a close. Winter quickly approached as we desperately tried to beat the frigid months ahead.
Our small group flew together in unison, admiring the bright blue atmosphere that filled our vision as we watched the world pass by. As we flew, our surroundings became more and more unfamiliar. I felt so free as we soared effortlessly, the sun and the wind as our guide. We would make it to Florida in no time.
Just as I thought nothing could go wrong, my wings grew stiff as my effortless fluttering became much more difficult each time my wings repeatedly propelled up and down. I watched Skye struggle ahead of me as well, soon realizing everyone was facing the same difficulty. Our relaxation turned to fear like a flip of a light switch. We were in grave danger, heading to our doom.
As I looked overhead, white snowflakes gracefully spilled from the clouds as if they were crying from the heavens. Snow-covered chunks poured down aggressively as we tried to avoid getting hit by hesitantly flying through. My heart beat out of my chest as I watched the sky become completely engulfed in a shade of falling white and dull clouds. The wind was more intense now, pushing me all about as I tried to stay on track. I watched as one by one, each bird was struck by these bitter nightmares falling hopelessly to their doom. I attempted to catch up to Skye, but was blindsided by a frozen boulder striking me down. The strenuous spikes wounded my feathers as pain rushed through my core. The blow was too much for my frail body to handle. I fell out of the sweet atmosphere’s embrace and declined toward my death.
It felt as if I were falling for eternity. Slow motion. Neverending. My shivering body was unable to regain the warmth stolen by the cold. My wings were frozen solid. Every attempt at staying afloat was hindered by the frozen condition of my tiny body. I couldn’t move. The whole world was spinning violently as I spiraled downward to the unknown below.
Skye soon followed after me. The last to fall. I heard her soft cry above as she flailed all about. Below, I saw the same attempt at survival, but it was to no avail. We all plummeted to the ground at exceeding speeds unsure of what was to come. The wind jolted me all around as the unfamiliar ground now became visible. I closed my eyes and prepared myself for the impact. Time to say goodbye.
I felt my frozen feathers become saturated with frigid water holding me hostage. I could no longer breathe for there was no air to be found in the sea of mystery. The impact of the collision connecting my body to the water’s surface shocked every atom in my body resulting in a stinging sensation consuming every part of me. The wind was violently pushed out of my lungs leaving me breathless. Helpless.
I tried desperately to move my wings in an attempt to scratch the surface, but the more I struggled, the more I sank. I accepted the fact that there was no escape. I saw other lifeless corpses of those I loved sink all around me. Motionless. The fact that I was still somehow alive was an actual miracle, but it wouldn’t last for long. There was no use in wasting the last bit of energy I had. I allowed myself to go completely still as my tiny lungs felt as if they were ready to explode.
A shadow formed on the surface of the water in the shape of a rectangle. A boat. As my blurred vision slowly turned to black, I felt myself being held by a rope-like material from beneath me. I felt my body levitate out of the depths of the water revealing the surface once again. Just as my lungs were about to give in, I was finally able to fill them with gasping breaths as I was lifted from the water’s interior. The cold wind chilled my feathers as the dampness escalated the frozen sensation raging through my veins.
Confused expressions glanced my way as three humans quickly worked to free me from the enclosed net hanging from a steel rod. The thick metal was connected to the boat and held the net tightly in its sturdy grasp. The net was swinging as the wind nudged the cage-like atmosphere from side to side.
“We need to help this poor bird! Quick, unhook the net from the clasp!” A feminine voice communicated to the other members on the vessel. I heard their footsteps as my lungs ached from not receiving oxygen for so long. I felt incredibly weak and unable to move. I looked and examined a medium sized tear splitting my right wing. It started at the top and ran almost to the middle. As I tried to move it, pain shot up my arm into my body. I chirped loudly which caught the peoples’ attention.
“The bird is in pain. We need to get her back to shore and to a vet pronto!” A pair of sharp scissors swiftly cut the rope as I fell into the hands of the sweet woman. She looked down at me with her hazel eyes and her curly blonde hair cascading down in my direction. Two other faces joined next to her both gazing down with concerned expressions displayed. To her left, a pair of blue eyes stared at me as the man’s straight, brown hair flowed as the wind blew through. To the right of her stood another boy shorter than the others. He jumped up and down continuously to try and see my frail body. Excitement sparkled in his brown eyes as his innocence shined through.
The older man ran over to the boat’s control center and I felt the boat weave through the water. The dock appeared all the way across the body of water as I was still held gently in the woman’s hands, the weaved rope as my bed. We passed by the masterpiece that is the Statue of Liberty pointing high into the sky with all her glory. As we passed the monument and came closer to the shore, a sign that read “Upper New York Bay” labeled this body of water clarifying the destination in which I had fallen from the sky.
As the boat came to a halt, my body was jolted around as the people hurried off the vessel, tied it tightly to the dock securing it’s safety, and headed off into oblivion. The kind woman still held me in her sweaty palms as my vision began to blur. Darkness surrounded me.
I woke up in a cold room with bright lights and walls covered with animal posters. I rested on an ice cold metal table as a human with large glasses and a white lab coat examined me thoroughly. My injured wing ached as I tried to move.
“Luckily I took an Ornithology course in college, because this bird is actually a Redwing migrating to the South,” the sophisticated voice echoed as the sound bounced off the walls. I looked over to my right to see my rescuers sitting patiently in uncomfortable office chairs. They were happy to see that I was indeed still alive, even though I didn’t even comprehend how that was possible. “I did some tests and I found that the impact from the fall definitely ripped it’s wing as well as damaged different parts of the body. This bird should be back to normal in a couple months.”
I felt the doctor carefully place micropore tape on my ripped wing forcing it in it’s correct position to heal properly. He wanted to see if I could stand, so he gently helped me to my feet and didn’t let go to ensure my safety. I weakly stood on both legs as the shaking continued. All my energy was gone. It was extremely difficult to keep standing, so I chirped loudly to signal that I was in pain. He helped me lay back down on the cold table as he typed on his computer once I safely reached the surface.
“This bird is very weak and we need to nurture them back to normal. With this tape, it will help the wing heal fully, but it will take some time. You’re going to have to keep a close eye on them at all times.”
The little boy sitting on his mother’s lap excitedly screeched with joy, a huge smile forming on his small face.
“I’ve always wanted a bird, mom!” The parents, however, didn’t look as thrilled, but I saw their expressions change once they saw how excited their child was.
“I didn’t think we would be getting a pet this soon,” The man began, “but I do want to help this bird as much as we can.” The wife smiled.
Seeing how happy the family was reminded me of mine. Oh how much I missed them already. I remembered seeing them fall as their bodies crashed into the water. Their lifeless corpses sinking to the depths of the bay. I never even got to say goodbye. I was now all alone with a different species. I wouldn’t make it to Florida.
I whimpered as I lay motionless on the table, their happiness fading as they felt my sadness illuminating off of me. The little boy hopped off his mother’s lap and walked over to me. His innocence touched my heart as he softly pet my ruffled feathers.
“Everything is going to be ok,” The little boy began, “we’re your new family now. We’re going to take great care of you. You can be like my little brother...or sister. Either way I love you already!” My fear eased as the comfort brought by the boy soothed my nerves. Even though things didn’t turn out anywhere near what I was expecting, maybe I was destined to be a part of their family. Even though I missed mine dearly. Maybe this was fate.
Maybe this was where I was meant to be all along.
My real home.