leaving the nest (a Broken World story)
“Son, can I have a minute?” asked the father tufted titmouse. The younger bird grudgingly hopped onto the side of the nest.
“I understand you’ve been stealing hair from bears and wolves.” The younger bird nodded to the affirmative.
“Why on earth would you do that?” the father said, his voice trembling slightly.
“We all do it” the son countered.
“No. No we don’t. We take hair from squirrels, opossums and the occasional sleeping raccoon. We don’t mess with bears son. That’s too dangerous. It’s irresponsible.” His son looked away.
“Don’t you understand how reckless that is? A bear will eat you in one gulp.”
His son hopped up and down on the edge of nest. It was obvious that he didn’t want to be there.
“And another thing, your mother tells me that you’ve been throwing away the hair after you pluck it.”
His son looked up at him. “Yeah. So?”
“So?” his father yelled, “Do you even know why we steal mammal hair in the first place?”
His son shook his head sheepishly.
“So you’ve been risking your life for no reason?” his father asked.
“I saw you doing it and thought it was some sort of test of bravery.”
The father’s shoulders slumped ever so slightly and his tone softened. “Son… that’s not it at all. We need the hair for our nests.” He then looked down in an exaggerated fashion in the hoped his son would see all the various types of hair in their nest.
He did. Being a bird he did not possess the necessary apparatus to blush.
“It’s a great insulator. It keeps your brothers and sisters warm. But more important than that, the scent of it keeps predators away from the nest.”
“I’m sorry dad. I just wanted to impress you. To be a titmouse you could be proud of.” Being a bird he did not possess the necessary apparatus to have a tear trickle down his cheek, however bad he wanted one to.
His father scooped him up under his wings and gave him a long hug.
It was some time before his son spoke again. “Dad, I have another question. Is a group of us titmouses or titmice?” the young bird asked, and then smiled as best you can with a beak.
“Titmice son. We’re titmice.”
Then they both laughed… as best they could with a beak.
“Tell you what son, want to have some real fun?” His son nodded enthusiastically. “There’s this long-haired human that’s usually laying in a hammock right about now…”
He didn’t have to finish the sentence before his son took flight.