Archive for March 17th, 2010

The Eagle — short story by Gladys Hobson

March 17, 2010

The Eagle

It wasn’t a dream, Ruth wasn’t asleep, but all seemed dreamlike even if crystal clear: watching through her own eyes but seeing herself from a distance. She could hear sounds too, of birds and animals and traffic on a distant motorway. She breathed in the scents of nature borne on a gentle breeze: ploughed earth of close-by fields, musty undergrowth of the woods with a pungent hint of fungi, and fruits of late summer resplendent on briars.
But all senses became suspended as, from her perch on a sycamore tree, she watched sleek white birds gathering in the topmost branches. Lots of happy chattering going on as their numbers increased. She stretched her wings, flapped them a little and flew upwards to join the gathering.
‘Go away, go away,’ they screamed, ‘you are not one of us.’
Unhappy at her exclusion, she returned to her branch and gazed at the white birds as they sang together in gleeful chorus. Suddenly, they took wing and flew like a wind-driven cloud, circling this way and that, their joyful chorus filling the air in choir-like harmony. Oh how she longed to be with them. But why not, didn’t she have wings too? Of course she did. Surely she must be one of them.
First she flew to the top of the tree and waited until they circled once more above her. Then up she flew and carefully filtered in among them. Such pleasure!
But one by one they dived towards her, screaming their unwelcoming message: ‘Go away… go away! You’re not one of us.’
She returned to the tree and, with streaming tears, watched the white birds’ graceful movements. Oh, why would they not accept her? She could sing, she could fly just as they. She sat alone and sang her own lonesome song.
But the pull to be flying with the glorious white birds became impossible to control. Before long she took off again, flying to meet them in the air.
‘Go back, go back, you’re not one of us. Go on… get busy, get busy!’ they screamed, swooping down on her. ‘We don’t want you. Go back and get busy.’
So day after day she sat singing, even if pining to be what the white birds said she was not. As time passed by, the birds became friendlier. Pleased she hadn’t bothered them again?
‘Keeping busy? Keeping busy? Good, good,’ they chirped, over and over, day after day.
One day, a white bird swooped down to her branch and sat by her side. ‘Keeping busy? Good…good.’
‘Why can’t I fly with you?’ she croaked through her tears.
‘You are not one of us. Accept it… you are not one of us. Birds of a feather flock together.’ It flew off calling, ‘Keep busy… keep busy.’
As the white bird flew away, Ruth watched her tears as they fell to earth. Then she noticed movement among the leaves there. Yes, birds… large birds; some with beautiful feathers, others with dull ones, but each bird contentedly pecking at the ground. Surely she had found her place in life? She flew down to investigate.
The ground birds carried on pecking at whatever they fancied. They didn’t send her away, rather the birds cheerfully accepted her presence amongst them.
‘Good, she said to herself. ‘I must be where I’m meant to be,’ and she started shifting leaves with her feet and beak. ‘These seeds are good,’ she said to herself.
So day after day, she stayed near the ground. But her heart longed to be up in the sky, She heard the white birds and flew upwards to join in with their singing, but each time she did so, they told her to go away and get busy, she was not part of them.
Sighing, she returned to the ground and joined a red-faced bird pecking at berries.
Red Face stopped pecking. ‘Why are you down here with us?’
‘I have nowhere else to go. Those birds flying in the sky don’t want me.’
‘That’s because they’re white birds. They always flock together. You’re not white. You don’t belong with them.’
‘Am I like you then?’
‘No, not like us, you are an eagle. Didn’t you know that?’
‘An eagle?’
‘Yes, look at yourself in that pool. See? You are a beautiful eagle. Everyone knows that eagles can fly higher than other birds. They are fast and strong… they can soar and swoop. And they can see better than any other bird.’
‘An eagle? Yes I am an eagle. Why couldn’t I see that for myself?’
‘Maybe because you’ve been too busy looking at the white birds, and wanting to be what you are not,’ Red Face said wisely, even if his small head gave the impression of containing a small brain.
‘You are right. I have wanted to be one of them. It is hard being on my own.’
‘You don’t need them; you don’t need anyone. Fly high, eagle bird. Soar into the sky, drift with the wind, swoop and glide. Be free and live.’

And so Ruth’s eyes were opened. She knew that while her path might be lonesome and, at times, hard, she had no need of other birds to fly and sing with. Her path was not theirs.
A new picture came into her mind, that of an eagle lectern, the eagle hovering over the world with the Holy Scriptures resting on its back. Ordination might not be for her, but her path had been made plain and she was not alone.

Gladys Hobson’s books can be seen at
Magpies Nest Publishing (post free in UK when ordered from web site)
And can be ordered from any good bookstore
The AGPress Bookstore for USA versions and Seduction By Design (post free in USA)
Visit — Writing For Joy
Ask Gran Hobson
Gladys Hobson — author
My Space — Gladys Writes