Olivia was a little pigeon with a big problem. While no pigeon Under the Bridge was exactly like the other (pigeons can always tell each other apart, even if it’s not so easy for humans like you and me), Olivia was more unlike the others than most.
She was a little smaller than any of the other pigeons her age, and she was very much smaller than her brother Columbus. She was what you might call the runt of the litter, if pigeons had such things as litters. As it was, she was just a very small pigeon. But being small can be helpful for a pigeon. A small pigeon can do some things that a large pigeon cannot, and all the pigeons Under the Bridge knew this. No, being a very small pigeon was not really Olivia’s problem. Olivia’s problem was that, while her brother’s feathers had grown in the same shiny gray as everyone else’s, Olivia’s feathers, when they finally replaced her prickly-looking baby fluff, had grown in completely white.
Right away, the other pigeons had begun to whisper about Olivia.
“She’s so small!”
“Not a bit of gray on her!”
“Do you think she’s even a pigeon?”
“She’ll only draw attention; she shouldn’t be here!”
Olivia was pretty sure she was a pigeon. Her mother and father were pigeons, after all. Her brother was a pigeon. She felt like a pigeon. But the other birds were older and wiser, and maybe they were right. This worried Olivia. If she wasn’t a pigeon, what was she? Where did she belong?
“You belong here,” Mother Pigeon said stoutly.
“Don’t listen to those scrawny old birds,” huffed Columbus (who was immediately scolded by Mother and Father for being rude).
“Your brother has one part right though,” admitted Father Pigeon. “You don’t need any other bird to tell you where you belong; that’s for your own wings to know.”
Mother Pigeon and Columbus cooed in agreement. This was one thing that none of the pigeons Under the Bridge could deny, a reassuring lullaby cooed to soothe young squabs afraid to leave the nest. A pigeon always knows where home is; so long as she can fly, a pigeon’s wings will take her there.
Every day, though, Olivia’s wings felt a little less sure. Maybe she wasn’t really a pigeon. Maybe she didn’t really belong Under the Bridge after all. Maybe there was some place out there with other birds like her, a place where she wouldn’t cause so much trouble. A place where she would blend in. She wonde
red, and worried, and doubted, and dreamed, and one day — after a day of foraging and drinking at the Old Fountain, as the sun lowered and her flock readied to fly home — Olivia did not follow. She was old enough now to know the way back to the bridge, and could have found it easily on her own. But today, Olivia simply watched the flock disappear in the darkening sky to the east. Olivia watched. Olivia waited.
Olivia flew west.