The UTS tower loomed before me, its giant shadow sending a slight chill that resonated in my bones. Moving closer and closer to the entranceway, I peered around cautiously, keeping an eye on a group of hipsters that were slowly walking towards the doors. A leaf rustled past and it took me a few seconds to refocus my eyes on the goal. The glass doors slid open as someone passed through, and I raced in.
Now inside, I felt confounded on what to do next. I had spent so long focused on entering the building; I wasn’t quite sure what the next step was. Picking a random direction, I decided to head up the stairs. I moved past the bright couches that had people scattered across them. A tall girl walked past me too closely, but it wasn’t her that caught my attention. She was holding something beautiful. Some sort of delectable sustenance that made my mouth water. I was transfixed.
Then she was gone, but the food trail remained. In a daze, I walked down the stairs, one step at a time. I reached the bottom, moved around the corner and flew down the stairs. I could sense how close I was. Through the brick archway, paradise awaited. So many noises and aromas, it was almost overwhelming.
A sharp pang hit me in the stomach, and I headed towards the closest food shop. A fish and rice combination; sushi, was passed from hand to hand before my very eyes.
I had my target. I stepped in close ready to take some sushi when someone almost trod on my foot. I jumped back, giving a quiet yell of surprise at the giant who towered above me. He glanced down at me, not even looking me in the eyes, before giving a slight shrug and turning away. What had humanity come to?
I puffed up my chest, trying to appear bigger than I was. Time to enter the arena again. More people pushed in, and I was about to give someone a friendly nip, when a voice stood out amongst the din.
Rose!' I turn slightly, not wanting to lose my spot. My old friend, Ren, was hovering by a table in the middle of the room. He had a half-eaten croissant in front of him and an empty bottle of juice on the table. There were a few seats scattered around him.
Looking one last time at the salmon sushi I was coveting, I wrenched my gaze away and joined Ren at the table. Croissant!
'Okay, okay, stop looking at it with those desperate eyes, you can have some of it too,' Ren said.
Warmth swelled up inside of me.
‘Ren...' I didn't even have the words. Gazing fondly at him, I took the first nibble of the flaky pastry.
A lady entered my field of vision as I ate. I wouldn't have noticed her if not for her single focus on the table we were at.
'Ren, incoming.' He lifted his head, taking note of the woman.
'Quick, eat what you can, then scatter!'
The lady was five steps away, then three, then one.
Her hands pushed forth as she muttered something intelligible.
Ren and I jumped back, allowing her access to the table.
She picked up the last of the croissant and the empty bottle.
'We weren't finished yet,' I said, looking her directly in the eyes like my mum had taught me. She scowled at me, muttering something I couldn’t decipher.
She went to one of the large food storage containers and placed the items inside. The sweet smell of recently baked food wafted out.
I unconsciously shifted closer. Wanting - no, needing to be closer.
‘Rose, I think it’s time to go. Look around, there’s too many people,’ Ren said, breaking me out of my reverie.
‘You’re right. Let’s come back a little later,’ I replied. I rose up on my legs, shook out my feathers and glided out of the busy Underground. Ren followed close behind me, before overtaking me, racing me up the stairs. I could see more unusual buildings and a stretch of grass and trees laid out before me. Putting on a burst of speed to beat Ren, I pushed my wings harder and flew past him. I was almost at the open air and –
‘Rosella! Rose! Ro-’ Ren was squawking but I couldn’t hear him anymore. I was dizzy and sick and my vision was going dark. Was my beak broken? I felt human hands pick me up and walk me through the glass doors I hadn’t noticed earlier. They placed me on soft grass and I was drifting. My friend Ren, was beside me till the end.
*Note that no animals were harmed in the making of this story.*
by Cassandra Haywood