Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: A Mourning Dove in Search of a Cage
By Emily Gibson
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As happens every day, she carries seeds and a pitcher of water to my cage, singing a greeting to me as I sang my dawn song ooAAH-cooo-coo-coo. She opened the cage door, as she does every day, her arm reaching past my perch through the open door, to pour fresh water in my bowl. Just beyond her, overhead, I could see clusters of glistening red cherries bouncing in invitation in the morning breeze. So I heeded, flapping clumsily over her arm as she spilled the water, her mouth a round O as I brushed past.
I escaped my little house, my first time flying free, awkward and careening. I made it to a high branch and grabbed hold tightly, looking down at her. She asked me to come back. Instead I listened to the cherries next to me, their sweet song of red juice pouring over the sides of my beak. Eventually she walked away.
When the breeze picked up in the darkening hours, I missed the comfort of my indoor nest lined with cedar shavings and horse hair, with snug walls where I have spent many wintry nights, and soft summer twilights. My usual cooing evening anthem was hushed by the wing swoop overhead of a clicking owl, anxious for dinner. I tucked my head in fear, with no wire enclosure to protect me. I fell silent, barely sleeping.
At dawn, she found me picking at cat food near the back porch, with an ancient feline crouched a few feet away, tail twitching, ready for an instant breakfast. I fluttered off, returning to relative safety of the orchard treetops, alert for hawks. For two days I explored the trees surrounding my little cage home, its door still open as a standing invitation. She filled my water bowl and brought my seeds just as she always did, singing. I listened carefully to the familiar tune, twisting my neck one way and then another to hear her better. The cherry invitation no longer seemed as sweet.
The third morning, she found me in my little nest right inside my dove house, the door still wide open. She filled my bowl with fresh water and brought me new seeds, closed the door, latching it tight. I was home.
Today, joyful at dawn, I woke her with my mourning song.
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