25 comments

Adventure Fiction

It’s getting colder again, and you know it’s time to move when you hear your father’s three-note call.

The fields are glistening with snow, long circles of dark green grass diminishing until all that’s left is the sludge of white. Adorned with a silver frost, the red and yellow flowers have lost their colour. The only constant is the sky, which shines a brilliant blue. It’s your long winding road, your transportation, your perpetual home.

You have a few others flying beside you. Your mother is ahead, her black and grey wings outspread. She’s been doing this journey for years, longer than you can imagine, and it’s mesmerising to watch her little body rocket through the morning clouds. She’s not the strongest, but you’ve seen her hold her own against cocky eagles and menacing ravens.

Your brother is next to you, slightly older and more assertive in his movements. He’s had an extra year’s practice compared to you, and he never lets you forget it. He bobs through the clouds, disappearing and returning in the smoke. You’d never tell him, but you admire his bravery. You’re too scared to lose eyesight of your mother, scared that you’ll lose your place, scared you’ll end up flying into the unknown. You know your parents won’t come back for you if you disappear.

Your father is the furthest ahead, his bowed wings wider than any of the others in the flock. He’s shrieking his three-note call, like the pied piper leading the children to their deaths, but your father is leading you to safety. His voice is shrill, a solid ‘pip, pip, pip’. It echoes through your skull as you soar and sounds like two pebbles scraping against one another. You hope he’ll stop singing soon. The journey always becomes better once he’s stopped yelling.

You have to stop after a few hours to grab some grub. You soar down from the clouds until you find yourself perched upon a surprisingly sturdy area of mudflat. The shallow tide is waiting for you, full of all the delicacies you could ask for. Marine worms, small crustaceans, and your personal favourite, biofilm. Your parents think you’re weird for pecking at the mud, trying to reach that gorgeous goo when you have an entire menu in front of you, but you find you fly best when you get the nutrients from the biofilm. You find it challenging. The layers are thin, and eating marine worms would be easier, but you peck and peck until the mucus-like substance covers your beak and travels into your small body. You let out a shrill squeak, pleased with your dinner. You feel like you’re ready to fly once more. Your brother hasn’t been as lucky; he’s eating half a sea slug and his wings are drooping. You can tell while you twitter that he hasn’t enjoyed his meal.

It’s soon time to fly again, and your wings are flayed out. You’re ahead of your brother. The biofilm has made you feel more confident, like you deserve to be closer to your dad, the clear leader of the flock. Still, you don’t dare go to close to him. He’s the leader, the one who knows the route, the one who no one should disturb. Disturbing him would be sure death. Instead, you stick close to your mother’s side, enjoying the sensation of being as regal and graceful in appearance as she is while she flies. You teeter up and down through the clouds until the sky turns black, and then you continue flying straight. Your brother follows behind, and you know he’s sulking about the fact you’re ahead, that you’re impressing your parents when that should be his job. You can’t help but feel a little smug.

You fly over the ocean, barely stopping. It’s in your nature to be fast, to travel as quickly as you’re able. The waves crash below you, reaching heights you’ve never seem them reach before. A spray of water hits your wings and you drop slightly lower than you should while flying. You swallow the droplets as they hit your beak, grateful for any hydration during your trip. Your mother cricks her neck as she flies past, and you feel proud.

You fly for what feels like months, but in reality is only a few days. Your wings are sore and your head is aching from your dad’s constant chirping, but then you see it. The gorgeous grey cliffs, with turquoise waves slamming against the rocky surface. On the surface stand your friends, friends who can’t fly. They’re so much bigger than you, but your parents say they’re not so different from you, although their wings don’t work, and they waddle together with their babies between their webbed feet. They’re friendly, though, and so you continue soaring until you find yourself sat on the rocky coastline.

You let out an excited chirp as you realise you’ve made it to your new home for the next few months. Your brother settles down next to you, huffing. He seems to be out of breath, as if he were trying to beat you to the finish line. Your mother and father are bobbing over the ocean, swooping down to collect food for later. You watch as they fill their beaks with sea slugs and clams and aquatic worms, returning them to your side. You’ll be eating like kings tonight.

The air is cool, and the waves spray you as you nestle into the hard rock. Your mother hasn’t found the equipment to start your nest yet, but you try not to feel upset by it, especially not after the delicious meal she’s managed to get for everyone. You swallow a few clams and keep quiet. Your mother has been doing this for years. She’ll know when to build a new home.

It’s only a few hours later when you hear another loud three-note call. At first, you think it’s your dad, but the voice is too deep, the squawk doesn’t match your father’s timbre. You glance up from where you are waiting next to your brother and let out an answering call. It’s the rest of your group, slightly lagging behind, but here now. They fly in unison, gorgeous brown wings outstretched as they soar against the black of the night sky. The males fly until they’re sat next to you, while the females drop down in search of lichen, leaves and moss. You realise they’re trying to build a better nest and feel a sense of gratitude. The rock has been too cold against your soft feathers.

They squawk as they work, breaking the silence of the night, but not waking up your bigger friends. Your family awake and begin helping. Your father and brother try to grab some more food for everyone, while your mother helps the others looking for equipment to build the nest. You puff out your chest and soar down to the ocean, scanning for any tasty morsels you can find.

Tonight, you want to make sure everyone eats well.

October 11, 2020 10:54

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25 comments

Autumn Rebecca
03:59 Oct 18, 2020

I have never been so intrigued by a bird's eye view of migration. Wonderfully written story! Felt very immersed, which doesn't happen often for me. 👍

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Rambling Beth
04:02 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it. :)

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Ben Franklin
16:26 Oct 17, 2020

Biofilm gives you wiiings. Loved the story! It had really nice descriptions.

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Rambling Beth
16:54 Oct 17, 2020

Now that's the title I should have used! Thank you for the lovely comment.

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Lila Kelsey
23:12 Oct 14, 2020

I love this story! You have something beautiful here. And your descriptions, well, they're great:)

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Rambling Beth
23:15 Oct 14, 2020

Thank you, lovely!

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Yolanda Wu
10:22 Oct 12, 2020

Wow, the beautiful descriptions, the imagery, and as other people have said, the vividness of the story, the use of second person making me feel like a bird. Everything is just so perfect. Every line is so artful and poetic. I love your use of present tense with the second person point of view, you wrote it so perfectly. It is a fantastic story, Beth. I loved it! Amazing work!

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Rambling Beth
10:42 Oct 12, 2020

Thank you so much! This is such a lovely comment. :)

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A.G. Scott
00:11 Oct 12, 2020

I agree with Kristin -- this was very vivid and immersive and goddammit when are we gonna get jetpacks?

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Rambling Beth
00:23 Oct 12, 2020

Thank you! And as for the jetpacks, soon, I hope. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
13:31 Oct 11, 2020

This is so beautiful, Beth! I was right up there with the young bird, flying along, feeling the wind and the spray, that stillness of nature. I don't know how you managed to paint such a vivid picture from such a different perspective, but you did - so poetically. I loved it!

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Rambling Beth
13:37 Oct 11, 2020

Thank you! I wanted to try something a little different and I'm glad it worked for you. :)

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06:19 Oct 23, 2020

👍👍👍Nice concept on the perspective of a migrating bird family to get a secured and safe nest.

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Rambling Beth
09:04 Oct 23, 2020

Thank you!

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Colin Devonshire
06:43 Oct 22, 2020

Now I know what it feels like to fly.

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Rambling Beth
09:01 Oct 22, 2020

I wish we actually knew what it feels like! Thank you for the lovely comment. :)

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Shea West
18:21 Oct 21, 2020

What a unique take on this prompt!

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Rambling Beth
18:29 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you!

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Claire Lewis
20:26 Oct 20, 2020

This is such an effective use of second person POV! You have a very engaging and descriptive voice that made this piece really strong. I can't wait to read more of your stories!

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Rambling Beth
20:53 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you very much!

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Sarah 🖤💖
00:00 Oct 14, 2020

Wow, this story was very...immersive? You did a very good job making me feel like I was actually a bird, and you described everything so well!

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Rambling Beth
00:20 Oct 14, 2020

Thank you! It was very fun to write. :)

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12:53 Oct 18, 2020

At first it didn't look like too many people would tackle this prompt, and many of the attempts I did see were clumsy and ill-thought out. However, among a few others, you have pleasantly surprised me. :) The storytelling was good, and through second person you present a unique author's voice. Additionally, as someone who enjoys the study of wildlife in all its forms, the details recorded are refreshing. :D If you’d like to check out some of your more credible competition (I don’t know if you already have. :P), here are some links: htt...

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Rambling Beth
13:40 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed this. The prompt was so intriguing that I couldn't resist. Thank you for the recommendations, I'll definitely check them out when I have a bit more time. :)

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13:42 Oct 18, 2020

:)

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