Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Outbreak( 04/07/11)
By Kimberly Russell
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At least the project was almost done.
The monotonous foraging had bored her silly but for some reason, she just couldn't stop. It had become a compulsion.
Maybe she had OCD...
Huffing a sigh, she rocketed from her roost then plunged into a heart-stopping free fall. Air whistled through sleek feathers and the earth blurred. She reveled in the momentary escape from the monotony of her life, only pulling out of the nosedive a breath before impact. Her pulse raced, roaring in her ears.
It was a thrill like no other.
She coasted on an updraft and considered a repeat death drop. Only this time without putting the brakes on. Wouldn't that be a newscaster's delight?
<i> Mundane existence drives eagle to suicide...details at eleven.... </i>
Evangeline shrugged and returned to her arduous task. She swooped to snag a tuft of downy grass that would soften the rough interior of the bowl then she set out again.
Only this time in search of dinner.
Maybe a plump field mouse would snap the funk that entangled her. Sharp eyes zeroed in on unsuspecting prey and soon she feasted. Appetite satisfied, she watched the sun sink into the horizon. Midnight black matching her mood crept in as she settled for the night.
Hoping tomorrow would be better.
Evangeline awoke amidst the flutter of wings to find her wayward mate balanced on a nearby branch. He'd been "Missing in Action" for quite some time. And while she was pleased at his return, it didn't relieve him of the consequences for defection.
Time to institute 'cold shoulder' mode.
But before she could put her plan into action, she noticed a curious bump underneath her tail feathers... and it made her forget all about Elwood:
An egg lay cradled in the nest.
Elwood quivered so hard, Evangeline wondered if his excitement would cause him to tumble from their perch. Then he raced off and returned dragging conifer branches into the aerie. The citrusy aroma wasn't unpleasant but why the sudden interest in interior decorating?
She puzzled at his strange behavior and decided either he had a guilty conscience...
Or a bad case of rabies.
He certainly hadn't been around much, she mused. Especially since they'd done the "Eagle Tango" a few weeks ago. Oh sure, she'd had a good time too but wasn't it just like a male to disappear after the fun? They'd cart wheeled, soared, and locked talons for a few days and then he just flapped off into the sunset.
She knew he'd be back--after all, they were stuck with each other for life. But now he hovered, eyeing her like a breakfast fish. Too bad for him.
Because now only one thing merited her attention:
Little Eaglet (LE for short.)
Weeks passed and Evangeline had to admit that Elwood had really stepped up. Not only had he remained nearby, he took over LE vigil when she needed a break and fussed over the aerie, rearranging and plucking.
Elwood had just sped off to bring her some lunch (he kept her well fed, too) when a tiny tap from under carefully arranged feathers caused her to move aside. Perplexed, she investigated and to her horror, found a jig-jagged crack in the egg.
No wonder Elwood had made such a quick getaway. Just wait until he got back!
Lunch wouldn't be the only dead meat if she found out he had caused harm to their chicklet. She was anxiously eagle-eyeing the precious cargo for further damage when suddenly, a muffled chant drifted from the nest...
<i> Mama, Mama,
I love you so.
Gonna make this egg go!</i>
Soon the <i> tap-tap-tap</i> of the chick's egg tooth knocked a chip out of the shell while Evangeline gawked in wonder at the miraculous event.
But nothing compared to what was happening inside.
Her heart swelled like a creek overflowing its banks after the spring rains. Life suddenly had meaning, her purpose crisp and clear. All the cold nights, endless foraging for nesting materials, and loneliness were forgotten.
Evangeline giggled in delight (something no dignified eagle would EVER do) and finally when she could contain it no longer, the love damn exploded...
<i> Hurry up, my Little Eaglet,
Have nothing to fear.
l love you too,
Your Mama's right here.</i>
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