August 26th. 2018 by Patrick Starks
Many told me that it was impossible to do the obvious—to fly. However, I was a bird after all. I wielded a beak as gold as the sun. And on the days when it was sunny, when my beak glistened, all who feared such a creature as I could see their death in the reflection of my talons. Not all but many laughed, telling their children’s children of the bald eagle who couldn’t fish for a dam. But let’s make this perfectly clear, I am not bald, and my friend I am no amateur hunter, but one of the best. Although, I’d have my days of bad luck.
Nevertheless, even though I was a bird, I had only one wing to show for it—handicapped at birth. But many were fools to believe that my one wing was useless. Dad always told me that for everything taken from you in life another attribute of you is strengthened, and even though I had only one wing, it was still stronger than two if not four wings.
But as me, and my brothers and sisters grew from little birds to big birds, no point intended, we became one of the most sought-after species, bearing feathers more beautiful than a peacock, and oh yes, we could fly with them too, regardless if any believed I could or not. In my family, everyone had beautiful hair, white as the ocean salt and white like the hair of the famous nature boy Ric Flair my parents would say—they were huge wrestling fans—there was a cabin not too far from our nest where it played every Monday.
Hunters, of course, tried their best to snag us when they got the chance, for reasons I don’t know, turn us into soup possibly, but we were nowhere close in comparison to a chicken. But we were just too damn good too ever fall in the grasp of a human. To us, humans were full of ignorance and still knew nothing about life as much as they wanted to believe they did. And as strong as we all stood perched as one, on a branch that should’ve broken, mom would never let me leave her sight. With just one wing, she felt I wouldn’t survive a day out in the wild. But she, they, were all wrong.
“Look, everyone, look at the mama’s boy,” said a Salmon.
And all the other salmon laughed along with him, but not long. A big shadow flew over the river and the wind drug behind it like kite to a string. My Brother Sun tail was massive and not one to play with. If there was one thing he hated, it was bullies. But his story is his own, which we will tell some other time. Everyone praised over Sun tail every chance they could, as if he was a god, calling him the strongest of us all as they marveled by his reflection from the river. Blinded by their own ignorance, I guess. And it was this that made me learn at an early age that eagle vision was just a myth.
But besides all the doubt, the day was too beautiful to be ignored. The smell of salmon lingered in the air—it was a good day to hunt, the only day to hunt. My talons dug into the bark of the tree deeper than a shark bite, and along with it my eyes involuntarily rolled back. It was hunting season, but no one had ever seen so many salmon in a group. One could say they were very proactive in the baby making department that year. Hundreds to thousands flipped in the air as they made their way gently down the stream. It was now or never. The Grizzly bears hadn’t arrived yet. But through my beak, I could smell that they weren’t too far. We needed to be quick.
The wind was gracious, although, misleading. None could fly in it. For the others, it was hard to manage at such speeds, but of course, they always bit off more than they could chew. Without a doubt, cockiness was in our nature. No bird hunted better than us, no bird. Although even Sun Tail struggled, the supposed chosen one, he liked to call himself. But don’t you go starting any drama, you didn’t hear that from me.
Below me, a young one squalled to its mother. It must have fallen from its nest or something, but the little thing was a natural, somehow it was flying in winds not even my brothers or sisters could control. The little birds’ mother did her best to get to them but the wind kept pushing her back even further the harder she fought. She cried and along with her echoes expelled through the mountains and through the clouds, escaping like humidity lodged within a tea kettle. The young one’s father would make a few attempts himself but failed miserably falling into a pit of salmon that snipped at him like piranhas. It was sad, and the annoying high pitched laughs from the salmon didn’t make it any better.
Without hesitation, I took my dive like the hero I was. Beaks dropped and eyes opened wider than an Owls. The faster I fell the more I could feel the wind beneath my wing. Just a few more seconds and it would be time to show everyone what they did not understand—perseverance. We Eagles were never known for diving but a little crow friend of mine, Onyx, taught me all about it. Apparently, that was what crows did, although, theirs were known to be a little bit more on the aggressive side. We never really felt threatened by humans. Again we thought they were stupid.
I counted, and on three I opened my wing. My body soared but was slightly off balance. I then spun as hard as I could. And before I realized it, I was through the harsh winds and halfway to the baby bird. Cheers echoed in the background. The salmon remained silent. For once in my life, I was finally getting some recognition for the things all didn’t believe I could do. However, like most mothers, mom stood back cringing to the possibilities of what could go wrong.
Just a few more seconds I would have the baby bird in my talons. I grabbed it gently but with its weight alone made it harder for me to keep steady. But not far from us a boulder sat in the middle of the river. It was the safest place I could put it down. I counted again and on three made action. The baby bird thumped then rolled on the boulder not coming to a complete stop. My talons clinched. It almost fell into the river but a salmon jumped up knocking the little one back to the center of the rock.
“Hey! What the hell are you doing?” said Salmon A.
“Helping,” said Salmon B.
“Helping? You’re crazy,” said Salmon A. “When that thing gets older. When it grows talons bigger than the one that dropped it off. It will be back but it won’t be back to thank you.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s just a baby. If it wishes to eat me later, then so be it. I will have done my part in this life,” said Salmon B.
“Y-your mad!” yelled Salmon A.
“Indeed,” winked Salmon B.
The little bird was safe. I had done the impossible. However, I wasn’t in the clear just yet. I still soared the skies, however, I hadn’t really found a way of stopping. My body torpedoed into a bundle of bushes. The more branches I hit the more my body ached. Everything went black. Sooner or later I’d find myself on the ground, in the middle of nowhere. I tried pulling myself up but couldn’t move a feather or talon. A big roar from the background echo. And I knew exactly what it was. I could smell it, and I’d smelt it before.
“Well, well, look at what I got here,” said a voice from the shadows.
Its feet were heavy. And every placement of them shook the branches around me.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
From the shadows and into the sunlight chocolate fur appeared. Claws massive, hot breath along with the smell of rotting salmon. Yes, this was definitely a Grizzly.
“Mother nature has been gracious to me again,” said the Grizzly. “I don’t think I could’ve done one more year of salmon. Sure, its good for us, but variety is so much better don’t you think?”
“W-well there’s some honey not too far from hear? I could show you,” I said.
“I’ve already had honey,” said the Grizzly.
“Well, w-what about berries? Everyone loves berries.”
“Do I look like some kind of black bear to you?” said the Grizzly. “Do not insult my heritage bird. Just stay still, it won’t be painful I promise.”
The grizzly walked over slowly, wetting its lips, although, they were already wet enough. Drool now dripped into my feathers. It was sticky and just as horrid as the Grizzly’s breath. He then went in for the kill.
“Any last words?” asked the Grizzly.
I had nothing to say. If anything, I was just happy that I proved everyone wrong. In my eyes, this was to be a glorious death.
A jaw full of sharp teeth then opened wide coming straight for my neck. A big shadow flew over and blocked out the sun.
“What was that?” asked the Grizzly. “What happen to the sun?”
Not one but hundreds of birds hovered over. It was mom, Dad, Sun tail, everyone.
“Leave my boy alone!” yelled my mom.
“You’ve got to be joking me,” said the grizzly.
In the air, Onyx soared in the front line.
“On three,” he yelled.
All birds then took a dive at the Grizzly, even the little bird that I’d just save moments prior.
“Formations,” yelled Onyx.
Within seconds they all shaped into the form of a beak.
“Come on then!” yelled the Grizzly. “I’ll have you all for breakfast.”
Just like before, everything went black. All birds were in a pile. And as they all took flight back into the air, the grizzly was revealed. He was unconscious, no fur. All other Grizzlies ran away to the sight of a now naked bear. The salmon again laughed. When the grizzly awoke, he took off into the woods never to return again.
To make a long story short, like Sun tail I was a hero to all after that. I even became a diving instructor for the little eagles. Everyone in the wild was united again, no judgment, just the need to for growth, however, at the end we would still have to face the Grizzlies again one way or another. It was almost March and they were about to come out of hibernation, but there wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.
Impossible? Never heard of it.
“To do the impossible for many is crazy talk, but look how far you’ve come, how far you’ve walked. You are so close that your visions become more realistic by the day, you feel as the oceans do—full of motion and waves. And as you sail along to a journey you yourself somewhat doubted, look where you are now, because in reality you have already found it.”