Senior 1st Prize Winning Story
“Flightless” by Isabela Violeta Lukban Rivera, Homeschooled, Philippines, is the First Prize winning story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Isabela is a fifteen-year-old (the eldest of four), home-schooled Filipino. Ever since she was young, she has always been fascinated by stories, but she never thought to try writing them until she began to read, and even then it took her a while to find confidence in herself. But, after writing some fan fiction for fun, a new passion sparked within her. Since then, Isa has maintained a personal blog called #Random Snippets Of Life, started several original books, and, more recently, created a new blog called Bookworms and Bluestockings with her friends and sister.
The crow stared at the sky wistfully, watching all of the puffy white clouds float peacefully along the air. Every now and then, one was broken apart by the obnoxiously careless man-made machines.
Nevertheless, Crow was desperate to join them. Ruffling his feathers, he jumped, frantically flapping his wings. But they—which were no more than mere stubs of the real thing—refused to carry him into the sky, and he fell to the ground in a heap.
Pushing himself to his feet, Crow shook his head. Frustration boiled within the bird, and he pecked furiously at the dust beneath him.
A thunderous pounding suddenly sounded, and Crow looked up—only to scramble backwards just in time as several pairs of human feet rushed by.
He was grateful that human feet were always so noisy; he had almost been trampled!
Tilting his head, Crow watched as the humans gamboled about. They were throwing something, which glided across the air as if it were on ice. It was flat, and round. Crow perked up.
Stealthily making his way across the field, Crow weaved through the tall grass as if it were a jungle; which, in a way, it was, to a little crow like him.
Hopping onto a wooden bench, then onto the picnic table attached to it, Crow ruffled his feathers, waiting patiently for a favorable moment.
One of the children ran just beside the table. Just when the child held her arm back in preparation to throw, Crow leapt onto the disk, and, gripping the edge tightly with his beak, braced himself.
The force of the sudden take-off nearly knocked Crow off, but he valiantly held on, his heart pounding with glee as he sailed through the air. Yes, thought Crow wildly, this must be what flying feels like!
Then the ground came rushing up at him, and a moment later the little crow found himself sprawled in the dirt. Again.
The bird scrambled to his feet and hurried out of the way as another child came to take the disk. When Crow was at a safe distance, he gnashed his beak in frustration.
Then something else caught his eye. It was flat and diamond-shaped, and it seemed like it was being lifted into the air by the wind. Crow had to assume it was also attached to a string, because it wasn’t flying away.
Crow dashed towards the human who held the string in his hands. After snapping his beak a few times in preparation, Crow climbed the human’s trousers.
The human didn’t seem to notice immediately what was happening. But by the time he finally did, the bird was already on his arm.
The human didn’t seem to know what to do, so Crow trotted forward quickly before he could react. Finally, the bird was safely on the string.
It was much thinner than the arm had been, but Crow persisted, balancing precariously on the string as if he were a circus tightrope walker.
Soon, he was at the top of the diamond, with nothing but the thin paper to hold him up. He cawed triumphantly.
At last! At last I’m—
Crow’s thoughts were cut off when the wind violently smashed the diamond into a nearby tree. Due to the momentum, Crow lost his balance and fell. He went tumbling through the many branches and fell down, down, down, back onto that distasteful and lowly ground.
Dazed and slightly bruised, Crow felt the last of his determination and willpower begin to dry up as he lay there.
A shadow passed over him. Crow blinked his bleary eyes and weakly turned his head and found a cart, holding round, brightly-colored items on strings.
Crow slowly pulled himself to his feet. There was no wind holding it up, and no child throwing it to make it fly.
What is this?
Crow slowly walked towards it. They were mesmerizing things, brightly colored with blues, greens, and reds. The bird found that he was rather captivated by them.
His determination returning suddenly, Crow hurried forward and ascended to where the round-things were awaiting him. He aggressively snapped at one of the strings until it broke, and he caught it in his beak before it could float away.
Crow closed his eyes, waiting for the now-familiar feeling of impact to hit…
… But it never came.
Crow peeked through his eyelids, then almost squawked in surprise when he saw that the ground was steadily getting farther and farther away from him. Eyes widening, he felt an exhilarating feeling rush through his body as gravity slowly seemed to become non-existent.
The round-thing didn’t bring him high enough to greet the clouds, but that was okay. Crow dazedly stared around him as he sailed past trees and electric wires. His shadow glided smoothly above a riverbank, and, once he was above the water, smiled in the only way birds can as he saw his rather ridiculous—and ridiculously ecstatic—reflection below him.
Maybe I can’t fly, Crow thought, but who cares? This entire experience has completely made up for my disability. He flapped his little wings and cawed joyfully through his closed beak.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the flight was over.
The round-thing caught on a tree branch and came to a gentle stop, and Crow, finally satisfied, hopped down onto the branch below him.
He paused to smile up at the round-thing, which seemed to be glowing in the sun’s rays. Crow gave a silent caw as a thank you to the round-thing, and he was sure he saw it nod in response. Then he began his descent back down.
Crow felt confidence like he had never felt before flow through him, and it added a new spring to his step as he proudly felt the truth of the fact that, now, he knew he would never give up. Through thick and thin, high and low, he was going to remain resilient and hopeful throughout all life had to throw at him.
No matter what.