Alright, I guess I should get back to this. No pictures today; for what it’s worth, it’s a wonder I managed to stop procrastinating and/or napping long enough to write at all!
Olivia wanted so badly to fly; she would feel safe in the air, where no human could hope to reach her. But the door was latched, and her wing would not take her far either way. Sol’s would not take him anywhere at all, and after all his help she couldn’t imagine leaving him behind.
“Don’t fear,” cooed Paloma, “it’s only the healer.”
Still, she fluttered her wings nervously, and Olivia was hardly reassured. Paloma had spoken kindly of Mar and the other humans, and yet the humans would not let them leave. Were the cages to protect them, like a hatchling’s nest? Why, then, would Sol need one, lively and clever as he was? And humans were lumbering ground-dwellers who knew nothing of flight; what help could a human healer possibly offer an injured bird? Olivia feared that Sol and Paloma had gotten it wrong somehow. She thought back to a day, not so long ago, when Columbo and Granny Columba had called her over to see something outside the nest. A huge, glossy wasp was lumbering by, carrying an even larger insect in her claws. Her prey was one of the plump, long-winged, noisy creatures that clung to the trees and joined the cricket-chorus on summer nights. Olivia had never seen a wasp fly around with its food before eating it, and she said as much to the other birds.
“It is not for her,” cooed Granny, “and it is not dead yet.”
Surprised, Olivia and Columbo watched the wasp disappear as Granny continued. “She poisons them,” Granny went on quietly, “and traps them in her nest for the young ones to eat when they hatch.”
Olivia shrunk down, horrified at the thought. Seeing that she had the squabs’ attention, Granny had flapped her wings with a dramatic flourish as she finished her tale.
“Never trust the humans, little ones, even if they offer food and make kind sounds. They are like the wasp! They will cage you in their nests, and then one day–“
Father Pigeon had interrupted here, puffed-up and furious-looking.
“Are you frightening the squabs again with your stories?”
The two had argued, then; Granny insisted that the tales were true, while Father tried frantically to assure Olivia and her brother that they wouldn’t be captured and eaten alive by humans. In the end, Olivia had not been sure who to believe. Columbo was certain that Granny was only teasing, but was it possible that she and Father had both been partly right? Before Granny’s story, Olivia had certainly never heard of humans gathering pigeons to eat them alive; but everyone Under the Bridge had heard of cages, and no one seemed entirely sure why humans used them. Did some humans eat pigeons? Perhaps she could ask one of the other old birds. Granny Columba had never spoken of it again, though, and so at the time young Olivia had forgotten about her question. It looked like she would not be able to ask it now, either: The whistling had stopped, and two huge black-and-white eyes peered down at her through the door of her cage.