Origin of Ave
It started out like any other day. I heard a loud rapping at my door, accompanied by a shout, “Theo! Come on! Let’s get going!” Dion, my best friend, and I had decided to explore the forest near our home village of Arillicka, where we had spent much of our boyhood together. We loved climbing the snow-laden trees and watching the creatures of the forest scurry below us as we perched atop a branch. However, we always had to sit on branches on opposite sides of the trunk because we had learned the hard way that our combined weights were too much for the plant to handle.
Although we were both thirteen rounds old, Dion could easily pass for a sixteen-round-old. He was well-built, strong, and despite being so young, he was one of the tallest inhabitants of our village. His sky blue, tousled hair was streaked with white highlights, and his eyes were a clear, glacier blue. I, on the other hand, was short and scrawny. I was often mistaken for a ten-round-old boy, and my hair was a vibrant cyan which curled and twisted in odd ways. The only similarities between us were our eyes, but then again, everyone in the land of Arickticka had similar eyes.
Dion and I were heading to the forest with our twine in hand. We tied the string to a pole, designated for this purpose alone, outside the woodland and let it unravel behind us as we walked. (This was a necessary precaution; that is, if we ever wanted to find our way back home.) We walked along, chatting all the way. Once we arrived at a suitable tree to climb, we wrapped our twine around the trunk and climbed up.
We sat on our separate branches, looking around the trunk’s circumference to see each other. We talked about what we thought a certain squirrel was thinking about as it gnawed on a nut, and debated where a certain hare had dug its burrow. The sun climbed higher into the sky and eventually we realized that we should probably head home to complete our chores. Well, it wasn’t exactly a mutual agreement. It took me a good while to convince Dion. You see, he was quite stubborn when he wanted to be, but I had my methods. This time I had to promise him a homemade twurlt. I enjoyed baking in my spare time, and Dion insisted on being my taste tester. Let me give a word of warning that I wish I had known beforehand, that boy can eat. A twurlt was one of my own personal creations which Dion was particularly fond of. It consisted of a soft, flaky pastry woven around a gooey, gelatinous center made of a secret blend of fruits and berries. With each bite the pastry cage melts in one’s mouth, releasing a burst of sweet, fruity filling. At least that’s how Dion described it, but he may be biased.
Dion skipped ahead, his eyes gleaming at the thought of receiving a twurlt. I shuffled along behind him, following our trail of twine.
“Hurry up, Marshmallow! I want that twurlt!” Dion hollered, doing his best to skip while facing backwards. This effort rewarded him with a face full of snow.
“Wow! Great job Dion!” I laughed, “How did that snow taste?” He responded by shaking off the snow he had accumulated, his face turning as red as the sky at sunset. We walked along until we reached the edge of the woodland.
We arrived at my house before long and stepped inside.
“Here’s your twurlt.” I handed Dion his promised twurlt. “Now remember to go do your chores. You made a promise.”
“Sure, fine. Whatever you say, Marshmallow,” Dion replied with a roll of his eyes. “Anything for a fresh twurlt!” He grinned and ran off to his house to do his chores. I waved goodbye.
I reached to remove my scarf, but my hand came back empty.
“Oh shoot,” I mumbled to myself, remembering how I had strewn it across the branch where I was sitting earlier. I couldn’t go without that scarf; it was given to me by my mother. I put my coat and boots back on and prepared to go out again.
Everybody else in Arillicka had light clothes with special plant fibers woven into the fabric that regulated their body temperatures. They didn’t need any coats, hats, or scarves to keep them warm. But of course it had to be me--I had to be the sole bearer of an allergy to that very plant. Because of this inconvenience, I had to wear many layers of clothing to keep me warm. I headed to the forest entrance and found our string still anchored to the pole. I slid my hand along the length of it, to guide me through the now darkening timberland. I found the tree soon after, and carefully scaled it to retrieve my scarf. Once I reached the branch, I grabbed the scarf and draped it around my neck, then slowly climbed back down. The mission was a success!
As I treaded carefully through the deep snow, following the twine once more, I heard a small noise to my left. I stopped and inclined my ear. A faint chirping sound arose from the base of the nearest tree. The cries were so desperate that I couldn’t possibly ignore it and go on with a clear conscience. I felt around the base of the trunk, being careful not to crush the poor creature. I felt a soft feather brush by my hand. As I picked up the bird in the cup of my hands, it trembled in my grasp. The dejected little fowl was freezing. I could feel every bone in its frail body. I had to help it. I tucked it into the folds of my coat with one hand, placing it right next to my thumping heart, and fed the string through the fist of my other hand. I rushed back home as fast as I could manage while holding the small bird.
I arrived home after what seemed like hours. I stoked the fire, and once it started blazing strongly, I retrieved the creature from its hiding place. Gently cradling it in my hands, I warmed its miniscule body by the flames. Its feathers shimmered in the firelight. It was a beautiful blue jay. I fed it some of the berries from my baking stash and pondered what I should call it.
I awoke the next morning, lying beside the fireplace . . . on the floor. Oh boy, was that a mistake. My muscles ached from the hard surface I had slept upon, and believe me when I say that my joints were stiff. But it was totally worth it. The little bird hopped around the floor and fluttered its wings. It surely had perked up, compared to the shivering creature it had been the night before. I fed it a few more berries before getting ready for the day.
While I washed my face, I had an epiphany. Ave. I would call the bird Ave. When I walked back to check on Ave, my heart froze as solid as a glacier and sank into my stomach. Ave had flown up to the window and was sitting on the sill, staring at the outside world. No, I couldn’t keep a wild animal as a pet. That would be equivalent to ripping it from its home and trapping it, yet allowing it to have glimpses of the life it deserved. I took a deep breath before walking over and picking her up. (Yes, it was indeed a female. I checked. Please don’t ask me to explain.) Her curious eyes searched my face as I carried her to the door. I stepped out into the street and lifted Ave skyward. I urged her to fly.
“Go. Fly away. You are free.” I sniffled as she rose on the wind and sailed towards the forest, “Be safe . . . Ave.” I stood in silence for a moment, gathering my thoughts. I figured that I would go visit Dion to get my mind off of Ave.
After gearing up as usual, I marched over to Dion’s house and tapped on the door. I felt something land on my head. I thought nothing of it in that moment. Dion opened the door and shrieked like a territorial fox, “Theo! What is that on your head?” He pointed above me as he stared. His eyes were as wide as snowballs.
I reached up to feel my head and felt a small beak gently peck my hand. My face shone up like the afternoon sun as I brought the stowaway down to eye level. My eyes gleamed, and I couldn’t help but smile as I announced, “This is Ave!” The blue jay twittered in agreement. I felt an odd tingle on my scalp, but quickly brushed away the thought. Ave had returned! Dion broke down in a fit of hysterical laughter and barely managed to stammer out, “Looks like Ave here brought you a gift!”
I hesitantly stretched one hand up to my head. Something squirmed inside as I brought it into my range of sight. I opened my hand and saw what Dion meant. I managed to keep my composure as the large worm wiggled on my palm. I looked to Ave, who looked quite pleased with herself. “Aheh. . .t-thanks Ave. . . .” I managed to add an uncomfortable grin. That was only the beginning of my adventures with Ave.