I was quite excited with the news that WildBird on the Fly's First Friday contest was being revived. It combines two of my passions, birds and writing. More than that I find that trying to write a 500 word story, within the constraints of the contest, an excellent exercise for building my writing skills.
I've also been very lucky at the contest, having won twice before. And my luck continues to hold as for some reason they've thought my story good enough to win the revived contest. Kudos to Amy for bringing it back. I encourage anyone who writes to give it a try, the next deadline being December 3rd.
Here then is my winning story...
Tye pulled his jacket tighter around his neck. “Damn wind,” he said to no one in particular. He stomped his feet, willing circulation there, and wondered if he’d get any visitors today. They were a strange lot, the bird people, traveling all this way to see a gull. Of course, once he stopped to think about it, his was a strange job.
Tye was an egg guard, hired by the Feds -- not that he didn’t mind the work, but there couldn’t really be people that would come all this way to steal a bird’s egg. No matter how rare it was. At least he wouldn’t screw up this job.
He’d come up north to make his way in the world, his parents happy to see him out of the house. They’d still hoped he’d go on to University, but he could barely handle high school. They’d nagged at him constantly to get out of the basement, so he did. Took the Pinto they’d given him when he got his licence and pointed it to Thompson.
He found work right away, in the mine. Hated every minute of it. When the foreman caught him sleeping instead of knocking loose rock from the ceiling, he was fired. That night in the bar, he fell in with some tourists, and before he knew it, he was on the train. Brian, who worked for the port, let him crash on his couch and told him about the egg guard gig.
He shook his head again as he raised his binoculars, puzzled by the absurdity of it all. Still it was a beautiful gull, a Ross’s Gull. Until three weeks ago, they were all seagulls to him. This one was small, dainty almost, and he’d never had dreamed a gull could have a pink breast, but these ones did. He looked up when he caught sight of the dust.
The plume of dust told him someone was coming, and soon the taxi pulled up. He smiled when he saw the two Germans get out. They’d been coming every day for the last week to see the bird. Different than the others, they spent more time talking with him, and they always brought coffee. Today was their last day in Churchill. He was glad for the company of someone who preferred him to the bird.
Dieter poured him coffee, while Brigit nodded hello but stood on the opposite side of the road, already raising the binoculars she wore. Dieter looked off the other way, towards the coast, lines creasing his forehead. There was a bear close, Dieter told him, pointing to the coast, and they both scanned the horizon. It was early for bears, and after fifteen minutes, they still hadn’t seen anything. Soon Dieter was pouring him more coffee.
Brigit joined them, so he handed her their thermos. He had already turned back to the coast as she deftly took off the bottom of the jug and slid the dark speckled egg inside.