Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: What the Bird Told Me
By Carol Slider
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“That’s right! Since we didn’t get to go on vacation, and you’re starting Kindergarten soon, Daddy took the day off...”
I look out the window and see a humongous amusement park with lots of scary-looking roller coasters.
“You don’t look very excited,” Mommy says.
“I am excited,” I say, but it’s not all-the-way true. Those roller coasters are a thousand million times bigger than my racing car tracks, and some of them have loops. Big loops.
We walk to the gate and stand in line to buy tickets. It’s hot and it takes a long time. I hold Mommy’s hand and hope I don’t have to ride a big roller coaster.
Finally we push a metal bar to go in. I see lots of people, and stores, and flowers... and a tree full of birds!
“The birds are singing ‘good morning’ to us!” I say, and jump up and down.
“Look at the clowns!” says Daddy. But I’m still looking at the birds.
We go to Kiddieland, and I ride the little rides: boats, planes, helicopters, trains, race cars. They go around and up and down, but not very high.
We eat a snow cone and it makes my tongue feel funny. Then we stand in line to ride in a log. The log floats down a stream, then goes up, up, up... and down! SPLASH! I’m all wet.
“Was that fun?” asks Mommy.
“Y-yes,” I say. But I don’t like getting water in my eyes.
We eat hot dogs, then Daddy says,
“I think I’ll ride the Green Monster.”
“Zach’s not going to sit still and wait.”
“Well, buy him something to eat.”
We walk to a bright green monster mouth with huge teeth. People are walking inside it to get to the ride. I look up and see a green roller coaster—the biggest, scariest one of all.
“Hey, Zachy, you wanna ride with me?” asks Daddy.
“NO!” I cry, clinging to Mommy.
Daddy laughs and walks off. Mommy says,
“It’s okay, Sweetie. You'll have to be a lot bigger to ride that.”
I watch a car roll down the green track. It’s full of people, and all of them are screaming. I want to be bigger someday... but not that big.
Mommy buys popcorn, and I sit on a bench to eat it. Then I look down and see a bird—a pretty brown bird with a bright red crown. He looks at me, and doesn’t fly away like the birds in our yard.
“Hello, little bird,” I say, and drop some popcorn for him. He nibbles at it; then he looks up and makes a little sound, and I know it means “thank you” in bird language.
“Zachy!” says Mommy. “Don’t throw your popcorn on the ground!”
She takes the box away; and when Daddy comes back, Mommy gives it to him.
“Thanks, but it’s only good when it’s fresh,” he says, and tosses it into a trash can. I think about the bird, and feel sad.
We go into a very cold building and sit on benches in the dark. Mommy tells me to sit still, and after a while, there’s a show. The people talk and sing very loudly. At the end, the good guy and the bad guy fight with guns: POW! BANG! It hurts my ears.
When it’s time to go home, we walk past a mean woman sitting on a bench. A bird lands beside her, and she waves her hand and says:
“Get outta here, dumb bird!”
I point my finger at her and say, “POW! BANG!”
“Zachy!” yells Mommy, and pulls me away.
“Where did he learn that?” Daddy frowns.
“He probably spends too much time with Lizzie’s kids... she lets them watch everything.”
Mommy and Daddy are wearing their grumpy faces now. I wonder if birds ever get grumpy, when people shoo them away or throw away their food.
When we get to the car, Mommy asks if I had fun.
“Yes,” I say.
“What was your favorite part?” asks Daddy.
“The bird who said ‘thank you’!”
“Bird? What bird?”
“Zachy,” Mommy says grumpily, “we spent a lot of money today, and...”
I look out the window, until she says,
“Now, what do you say?”
“Thank you,” I say, very quietly.
“You don’t sound like you mean it.”
But I do mean it.
Just like the bird.
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