It Begins (The Runty Pigeon, pt. 1)

September is traditionally a month when not a lot happens, art-wise, for me. No Inktober or NaNoWriMo or winter gifts and so on. Not tons of free time, either. However, I’m trying to do something about that this year, so I’ve forced myself to (almost) complete a sort-of-short story I thought up when I was … I don’t know, 13? For the sake of authenticity (hahahaha no I’m just lazy) I’ve kept the original title, “The Runty Pigeon.” All you need to know, I suppose, is that it’s a variation on “The Ugly Duckling” with some of my least-favorite parts of that tale changed up a bit. Also it’s all pigeons. So there’s that.

Since this is ostensibly an art blog, I will *try* to include an image of some sort with most entries, though that may not end up happening. Today’s “cover image” was the work of half an hour or so, most of which consisted of cutting a pigeon out of scrap paper and trying to shade over it without destroying said cutout (because using stuff to fasten stuff to other stuff instead of just mashing it against the paper with my other thumb was … too technical I guess?). The rest was making rectangles in Inkscape. Don’t judge me, I like squares. Even if the end result is basically a 90’s mass-market paperback.

Anyhow, here we go!

Pigeon

Prologue

Once upon a time, in a city just like yours, there was a bridge just like any other bridge. And under that bridge lived a flock of beautiful pigeons with feathers of every color. On a cloudy day you might have thought they were all the same shade of wet gray as the bridge and the road than ran beneath it; but when the sun shone, their soft feathers flashed with purple and silver, green and bronze. On those days, the pigeons would stand a little taller, knowing how beautiful they looked in the light.

The First Egg

One cool spring day, two gray pigeons were more pleased than any other pigeon, despite the clouds covering the sun. The first of their two eggs was beginning to hatch, and Mother Pigeon was certain it was going to be a big, healthy baby.

CRACK! One gangly pigeon foot kicked out from the egg, then another. “Such a strong little squab!” cooed Mother Pigeon (for a “squab” is a pigeon baby). “Just like Grandmother Columba!”

Columba was well-known among their flock as a brave bird. It was said that she fought off the Old Fountain Cat, a fierce and hungry creature that had hunted the pigeons’ favorite feeding spot for generations. Perhaps the cat had found a tamer flock of birds, or perhaps her owner had finally returned for her; but either way she had never bothered the pigeons again.

“Yes,” sighed Mother Pigeon as the first squab flicked the last bits of shell from its stubby wings; “I will name you Columba, and perhaps one day there will be stories of your great bravery, too.”

And so it was. Columbus (who turned out to be a boy pigeon, when he was old enough to be one or the other) grew plump and strong and handsome, and had many daring adventures. But this is not his story.

The Second Egg

It took a little longer for the second egg to hatch. Father Pigeon was on the nest that morning, and he had been hoping very much that the second squab would arrive during his watch.

CRACK! Sure enough, one little pigeon foot kicked out from the egg, then a little featherless face. As blind as any new-hatched pigeon, the tiny baby could hardly see more than light and shadow. Still, it somehow seemed to stop and look around.

“Such a curious little squab!” cooed Father Pigeon. “Just like Auntie Olivia!”

Olivia was more of a great-aunt, or possibly some kind of cousin — but she was everyone’s Auntie just the same. Known for her great age and her great cleverness, she was one of the first pigeons to live Under the Bridge. It was even said that she had been the one to discover the bridge after their flock left Brown Barn. Only Auntie Olivia was old enough to remember for sure; but either way, Under the Bridge was a good home. It was cool in the summer, sheltered from the rain and snow, and would not burn down in an autumn drought the way Brown Barn had in the end.

“Yes,” cooed Father Pigeon as the little squab pressed closer to his warm feathers; “I will name you Olivia, and perhaps one day there will be stories of your great discoveries, too.”

And so it was. But Olivia (who turned out to be a girl pigeon after all) ended up having a very different kind of adventure. This is her story.

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