He fell hard. Toby remembered soaring above the cliffs, showing off his triple loop trick to a flock of seagulls; then a sharp pain pierced his wing. A tearing sound followed. The raw scent of his own blood made him dizzy. In the instant his wing hit the electrical wire and ripped off, Toby plummeted in awkward spirals. A loud whistle cut through the air. The seagulls gasped and flew in random order, forgetting their formation in the horror.
Thump. His plunge ended in a wheat field.
A few gulls landed and asked if he needed help, but he screamed an eagle cry back at them. He wouldn’t let a gull help him.
The pain throbbed as he lay there, almost asleep. A shadow passed over him in circles, closer and closer.
Sam heard the whistle; he thought someone was setting fire to his field, so he ran out of the barn. He couldn’t see anything, but could hear a faint flapping, then rustling, then more flapping. On a crushed area of wheat, a bald eagle laid on its side, shaking. He quickly reached for his cell phone. “It’s okay, buddy. I know someone who can help you.” The bird’s golden eyes stared at him. “Jason, you gotta get over here…you won’t believe what landed.”
Toby heard the stomping of a man’s feet coming closer, so he stopped trying to fly. Maybe the man would pass by—if he could stop shaking.
Jason’s pick-up truck screeched as he pulled into Sam’s driveway. “Wow, he’s a beauty! The poor guy lost half a wing somehow…he won’t fly again, but I’ll get him walking.”
In and out of darkness…a warm covering…lifted without flying…the hum of moving.
When Toby woke up, his wing hurt less and was covered in something white. He used his good wing to help get him on his feet. He couldn’t go far even if he was able. Bars surrounded him on all sides. Then he heard laughter…
A fox with one eye was in a cage next to him. “I’ve never seen an eagle like you. Where’s your feathers? You look like you’re hiking up your pants to walk through a puddle.” Some chickens nearby joined in, laughing at him. Toby waddled over to a corner and tucked his head into his wing. Would he ever be able to fly again? He could still feel the thump of his crash landing. He lost his majestic grace along with his wing.
He missed the hunt for food. What fun was it having fish and rats served on a platter? And who set up these cages? An annoying fox on the left…and four seagulls shared his cage. Their constant cawing could drive any bird insane. At least they would never steal his food; they’ve seen his talons.
A few days later, after eating some of his portion, he watched how the gulls fought over their slabs of fish. Each bird looked like a veteran who lost clumps of feathers at battle. One runt showed up last for the leftovers, but the gulls had eaten every morsel. He cawed weakly, but no one gave him food.
Toby called the runt over. When a larger seagull followed, he screamed, “Get away, you greedy gull.” He called the runt again, “Here Little Gull,” and pushed a piece of his fish toward the hungry bird. Then Toby shielded the runt with his mighty wing until he was done eating and flew to the other side. Every day Toby and the runt gull shared a meal and watched Jason build something that didn’t look like a nest.
Jason pounded the last nail on the support beam and stretched the yellow fabric across the glider. He had built hang-gliders before, but this one had to be different.
Toby flinched when Jason picked him up. Where am I going now? I don’t want to leave Little Gull. I can’t do anything with one wing. But all Jason heard was screaming.
“Don’t worry. You’re gonna love this.” After Jason drove to a higher altitude, he strapped Toby in a harness over his back and clicked the locks into place. He ran and leaped off the cliff, hang-gliding with the wind.
And Toby soared through the air once more with one wing and a friend.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
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