Story#9: The Albatross

albatross

“Let’s fly to the North,” an albatross told his wife one day.

“You know I don’t like the North,” his wife scowled.  “And anyway it’s almost time to build our nest so that I can lay our egg.”

The albatross didn’t like the way she said “our egg”.

“Oh well,” he said.  “I tell you what.  I will take a trip alone to the North and come back in a few days to finish the nest.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” his wife snapped.  “You will do no such thing.”

So that night, when his wife was sleeping, the albatross lifted silently into the air and drifted like a passager jet away to the North.  It was a rather long journey so he had a lot of time to think.  The things he thought about were not pleasant.  He thought about how his wife seemed to nag him a lot.  About how she often told him his ideas were ridiculous.  About how she never wanted to do anything fun or exciting.  About how she sometimes even made fun of him when he was dreaming about something exotic or new.

“Why can’t I experience new things?” the albatross grumbled to himself.  “There’s a whole world out there that I am missing because of her.  Well, no more!”

As soon as he got to the North, he was amazed at how different everything was.  How unusual.  Even the birds were bizarre to him.  Some where tiny and colorless brown.  Others were jet black and pointy.  Still others were as bright and shiny as the blue sky.  He stopped to talk to a portly grey bird which a spoted chest covered with iridescent feathers.

“Say, what kind of bird are you?” he called to the strange bird.

“Say what?” said the bird with a confused looked.

“What kind of bird are you?” the albatross asked again in the friendliest way he could.

“The kind of bird that thinks you’re a dumbass,” the portly bird said rudely before flapping clumsily away with its tiny wings.  The albatross looked at his own wings and was suddenly thankful for being an albatross.

The next bird he came across was one of the sharp beaked all black ones.  He found it in the middle of a grass clearing, pecking at the bloody remains of a small animal’s head.

“Excuse me,” the albatross addressed the black bird much more cautiously this time.  “Can you please tell me what kind of bird you are?”  The black bird turned its attention toward the albatross.  It’s eyes were nearly as sharp as its beak as it cocked its head from side to side as if measuring the albatross.

“Albatross right,” the black bird said in a throaty voice.

“Excuse me,” the albatross responded, because he wasn’t sure if it was a statement or a question.

“You’re an albatross,” the black bird said not unpleasantly.

“Yes I am,” the albatross relaxed a little.  At least this bird was not calling him names.

“Tell you what,” the black bird smiled.  “If you go to that lake over there, catch a fish, and then share it with me I will answer all your questions.”

It was very easy for the albatross to swoop over the lake and scoop a large fish from the lake.  This was after all what an albatross did best.  He shared it with the black bird as promised, and then the bird began to answer all his questions, as promised.

“I’m a crow,” he said between gobbles of fish guts.

“What is this place?” the albatross, who had no idea what a crow was, asked.

“New York City,” the crow pronounced.  “The city that sleeps.  The city so nice they named it twice.  The center of the universe.  The capital of the world.  The great melting pot.  The big apple.”  The albatross couldn’t help but feel like this crow fellow had a habit of repeating whatever he heard.

“You’re a long way from home albatross,” the crow said as it preened itself after a rather hearty meal.

“I came here to get away,” the albatross said sadly.

“Away from what?” the crow asked.

“I’m not sure,” the albatross sighed.  Then the two departed, but not before the crow told the albatross what the best sites to see were in New York City.  So the albatross saw things like the Empire State building, Broadway, and the Brooklyn bridge.  Where ever he went, the people would point at him and talk about how unusually he looked.  Clearly he was a very long way from home.

The albatross had almost had his fill of New York City and was ready to leave when he went to the last destination the crow had given them, the Statue of Liberty.  The fact that it looked like a giant person immediately turned the albatross off.  He was just about to lift off for home when he saw in the distance, sitting on the top of the torch of the humongous green lady, a beautiful brown bird.  The albatross was intrigued.  He flew up to land close to the bird.  Its feathers where gorgeous, its eyes were sharp.  It had a large yellow curved beak, and large yellow curled talons.  The albatross had never seen a more amazing bird.

“Hello,” he said shyly.  The brown bird turned its head slowly to him, but did not respond.

“I’m an albatross,” he said brightly.  “What kind of bird are you?”

“Hawk,” the bird said, and he could tell by the voice the bird was a lady.

“You’re…” He wanted to say beautiful, but he couldn’t get it out.

“Follow me,” the hawk said suddenly and glided into the air like a cloud.  The albatross joined her, and they danced high in the sky together.  So high that the cars the people rode in looked like ants.  The albatross and the hawk did not speak, but there was no need for words.  He felt his heart beat for her, and he could hear hers beat for him.

They spent the night together telling each other stories of what it was like to be a hawk and what it was like to be an albatross.  Then morning came and the albatross was distant.  When the hawk asked him to fly with her again, the albatross refused.

“I have to go home,” he said sadly.  Because she was a hawk, the albatross could not tell what her look meant.  He liked to think she was disappointed, but who could say.  He said good bye and began his long journey home.  It was not easy going.  Almost immediately after leaving New York City, he was greeted with a violent storm.  A man tried to shoot him but fortunately was a bad aim.  When he landed for a rest, a cat jumped him.  He was able to beat it off with his enormous wings but not without some scratches.  He was a bit ruffled by the time he reached his wife, who was understandably surprised to see him.

“I thought you were dead,” she said with no real emotion.

“No,” he answered.  “I’m alive.”  It almost came out as an apology.

“Well,” she sighed.  “I have bad news for you.”

“You do?”

“I have a new mate.”  When she said it, his heart nearly leapt from his chest.  It was a feeling of joy he had not felt since he was a young bird.  Since before he met his wife as a matter of fact.  It was a feeling he enjoyed very much.

“Oh really,” he tried to sound sad.

“Yeah,” now she was the apologetic one.  “I’m really sorry,” she added, moving aside to show him two shiny eggs in her nest.

“No, it’s okay,” he said a little too quickly.  “I probably would have done the same thing.”

She gave one of her usual angry looks.

“I mean, if I thought you were dead, I mean,” he fumbled.

Then the albatross said a hasty last good bye to his ex-wife and flew into the sky resolving never to return to this dismal place.  As he headed North he could really only thing of one thing.  Dancing high in the sky with the beautiful brown hawk.

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