Short Story Competition 2018 – Third Place: The Unlikely Bird, by Chaakir Benzina

Have you heard of the unlikely bird? They say he was everywhere. Everywhere, yet always nowhere. Nowhere, yet always somewhere. They say his wings were as resilient as his company. Effortless, yet never careless. They say he was unlikely, and a rare breed. Untroubled and unlimited. Sometimes unwelcomed.

There was a time when he flew with the blackbirds. The white coats called them redbreasts. They say it was an unlikely match. The redbreasts had a habit of breaking out in unfamiliar song, carrying a curious culture on their curious wings. They were dominant, but gentle. The unlikely bird was still a young one, so he grew to consider the redbreasts as his own, slowly singing the alluring hymns of the red-breasted blackbirds. But one day, things changed.

There was a time when he fluttered with the ravens. They say ravens sense suffering, and loss was fresh on the unlikely bird’s mind, so soon enough he found himself embracing new wilds as the ravens rinsed his bruised wings. The ravens were true hunters, and soon taught him, too, the ways of a hunter. They say his first prey was a tiny fish. They say his second was a vixen. He adored the ravens, and was close to becoming one. But one day, things changed.

There was a time when he perched with a ruby-throated hummingbird. They say she was a lonely creature. He was lost, and stumbled upon her nest in a quiet orchard. She was vigilant, but allowed his presence. They never communicated. He would sit and watch her fly around the orchard with remarkable speed. They say he learned from her, and although things eventually changed, he would always spend a cold day of winter flying around the orchard to watch her.

Have you ever heard of such a bird? Unlikely? Untroubled? Unwelcomed? They say that one day, things changed, and he disappeared. They think he settled down. That he found a home. A family. That he encountered a lovebird, and they fell in love in the vineyard. They think that together, they flew. But not everyone agrees. Some say he just got tired of searching.

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