fiction: trash bird

The following is a little piece of fiction I wrote for the college comp class I’m taking this semester. Cora is a character I’ve been noodling on for a year or so now, but I hadn’t actually written anything down prior to this. The story I want to tell with her is quite different than this, but I liked how this came out and wanted to share. I may post more bits of fiction in future, depending on whether I can actually get it out of my head.

Feedback is welcomed as long as you keep it kind and constructive.


Trash Bird

Air burned in my lungs as the tops of the trees whipped by underneath me.

“I’m going to peck your eyes out, you little shit!” the hawk screeched from behind.

I certainly believed her. She was closing in fast—evasive maneuvers were going to be necessary. I scanned the treetops up ahead and noticed a small clearing. If I could drop down into that space and then get up into the thick cover of a maple or an oak, I might be able to lose her.

“Only if you can catch me, beady eyes!” I cawed back, unable to help myself. She had started it, after all. I had been sitting on the edge of that dumpster, minding my own business with a discarded slice of pizza, when Ms. Cranky Pants had swooped down and tried to grab me for a snack of her own. Rather than running away at once, I had put up a bit of a fight, landing several good hard pecks and relieving the hawk of two quill feathers before my apparently stunted sense of self-preservation finally kicked in.

“The taste of your fear will only make you that much more delicious when I get my claws on you,” I heard her say. Most hawks were relatively reasonable but this one seemed to have…issues.

Just there, the edge of the clearing. I pulled my wings in a bit and dove for it. Down into the trees I rocketed, barely keeping control. Branches—I needed to get up into some big leafy branches before she had a chance to drop down and get me back in her sights.

I banked left, then right, then another hard right toward a huge oak tree with dense foliage. Snapping my wings out as wide as I could brought me to an abrupt halt on a branch about midway up the tree. Chest heaving, I twisted my head sideways to get a better look above me and saw that the hawk was just starting her dive into the clearing. Time to find a place to hide or I was going to be attending a very involuntary lunch date.

Three quick hops had me up close to the trunk of the tree. The hawk’s eyesight was far too good for me to get away with just huddling against the trunk, though. Looking up the trunk, I noticed a small cavity a couple feet above my head. The idea of stuffing myself into random tree cavities without at least doing some reconnaissance first didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but whatever might be in there probably wasn’t as bad as getting ripped apart by an angry hawk. Probably. I looked out into the clearing again to see said angry hawk swooping in along, slow circle around the perimeter—clearly looking for me. Random tree cavity it was, then!

I hopped and flapped my way up to the hole and gripped the edge, peering into the dark. No movement, no strong smell—just some stale rodent scent from seasons past. I could hear the hawk’s wingbeats nearing now. There was no more time to weigh options.

“I know you’re in here somewhere, trash-bird. It’s only a matter of time until I get my eyes on you and then you’re done for,” she called.

“Just because I EAT trash doesn’t mean I AM trash,” I muttered under my breath as I stuffed myself tail-first into the cavity. Several somethings crunched underfoot as I pushed back further into the dark, but I couldn’t think about that.

The wingbeats were getting steadily louder. I watched as the hawk banked, slowing to scan the trees around the edge of the clearing more closely. As she swooped past my tree her golden eyes swept right over the cavity without a hint of recognition. I realized I was holding my breath. I watched her make another unhurried circuit of the clearing. Then, unbelievably, she started beating her wings harder, caught an updraft, and started to soar up away toward the clouds.

“Don’t mistake this for mercy,” her screech echoed back to me, distorted by the wind. “You can’t hide forever, and I have a very long memory.”

I waited until she was fully out of sight before letting out my breath in a whoosh so mighty that my beak whistled with the force of it. I did a full body shake and feather-ruffle, trying to exorcise some of the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I wasn’t about to jump straight back into the sky and stick my head above the treetops yet, that was for sure. But the memory of those crunching noises beneath my feet earlier was starting to solidify in my consciousness and I didn’t feel like hanging around to find out what that had been all about.

As I was pulling myself out of the cavity, a soft, sibilant voice slithered up from near my feet:

“Going so sssoon? I thought perhapsss…you might sssstay for a… chat.”

I glanced down to see a brown tree snake at least twice the length of me unfurling slowly into the light. Its eyes glittered with menace as it flicked its forked tongue toward me, practically tasting me through the air. Squawking in dismay, I dove off the edge of the cavity and flapped for all I was worth.

“Not today, sorry! Places to go, trash to eat, you know how it is. Thanks for the hiding place, though. Good luck, uhhh… snaking!” I cawed back over my shoulder.

Puffy white clouds scuttled by overhead as I caught a breeze and rode it across the clearing in the opposite direction the hawk had headed. I took a few moments to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my back and the general niceness of having lived to fly another day. I then

found my thoughts wandering back to that discarded slice of pizza I had been working on before I was so rudely interrupted earlier. Before I knew it, I was banking left out of the clearing, headed back toward town.