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Little Blue

The Penguin That Stole A Boy

By Kelly RobertsonPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
Created with Canva

Henry hated the aquarium. The loud noises, the crowds, the fishy-fish smell that filled the muggy air. Strange for a penguin to dislike the smell of fish, but alas there was no helping it. Crammed and crowded with so many others nipping and squawking for their share, Henry couldn’t help but feel indignant over the lack of decorum and finesse. They were penguins, after all! The least they could do was show a modicum of respect.

Henry waddled closer to the mocking barrier that separated him from the outside world. Four feet of plexiglass between him and freedom. Since hatching here, Henry had always felt like the odd bird out. As the only Little Blue penguin in a hodge-podge flock of tropical breeds, he felt isolated, lonely. His keepers didn’t seem too bothered, saying he’d adjust as time inevitably flowed on, but Henry knew the truth of it deep down beneath his feathers.

If only he could will himself to grow another few inches, or achieve the miracle of flight, he would soar out of his undignified cage. He’d return home, though he wasn’t entirely sure where that might be.

Though he’d hatched here along with many of the others, he couldn't shake the urgent longing for something more than being the spectacle of adolescent trips and unruly weekend crowds. For years, he’d waddled and swam before the glass, desperate to escape the tirade of thundering fists and open palms that hammered against the walls and his eardrums day in and day out.

Alas, freedom amidst the crowded sea of spectators seemed just as impossible as willing his flippers to fly. Until the day came that they closed down his exhibit. Bird flu, they called it as they sealed him and his brethren off from the public’s adoring eyes. A safeguard of black barricade walls and rope barriers to keep the wretched germs away.

Henry sighed. Although he hated the constant parade of faces gawking at him, he despised the isolation more. Because without the sea of people pointing and smiling at him, there was no one else around to see him cry.

Henry softly banged his head against the barrier, the tap tap tap of his beak against the glass echoing in the muted chamber of his quarantine.

“What are you doing?”

Startled, Henry looked up into the pudgy, red-rimmed face staring down at him. A child’s face. The young boy sniffed, then wiped his nose across his sleeve. He rubbed his eyes, swiping his own hidden tears as though Henry might judge him for them. Henry waddled back a step, then flapped his flippers. “I’m sad,” he replied honestly.

The boy looked down at him with surprise, as though the very notion that a penguin could talk seemed utterly improbable. After a moment of grappling with the newfound realization, he nodded sagely. “Me, too.” Another sniff, another swipe of his arm across his nose. “Mommy said not to run off, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to see the sharks, but I couldn’t find them. Then I couldn’t find my mommy, and I got scared. I thought maybe…” He sighed. He sniffed. “Have you seen her?”

Henry shook his head. He glanced back towards the black wall guarding their secret exchange when an idea ignited in his mind that sent a shiver through his feathers. He waddled closer, flapping his flippers in excitement. “No, but I can help you look for her. We penguins are excellent navigators. Would you like me to help?"

A smile spread across the boys lips as he immediately bobbed his head. "My name's Liam. What's yours?"

"Henry. It's nice to meet you, Liam."

Liam giggled and shuffled on his toes. "Hey, do you wanna be my friend? We could play at my house after we find my mommy!"

Henry ruffled his feathers, a sudden warmth reaching from head to toe. "I would love to. Now, you just have to get me out of here."

Liam looked at the barrier between them from bottom to top. Though taller than Henry by far, his chest barely rose above the enclosure walls. "How do I do that?"

The little penguin paused. He spun slowly, searching his enclosure for any means that might aide his egress, until he stopped back on Liam himself. "What's that on your back?"

Liam spun as well, then shuffled out of the straps and held it out for Henry to see. "It's my backpack! Do you like it?" Dinosaurs danced across the worn, blue fabric, but the long, dangling strands at the bottom gave Henry an idea.

"I do indeed! Can you loosen the straps as long as they'll go, then open it up and lower it down so I can climb inside?"

Liam nodded, then quickly enacted Henry's plan. Pulling the zipper aside, the boy climbed one of the decorative rocks and hoisted himself up on the barrier. Carefully, he dangled the open pack in front of the penguin. Sucking in a deep breath, Henry leapt inside headfirst, wriggling upright as Liam lifted him out of his enclosure.

Henry poked his head out and grinned as only penguins can. He could taste freedom already!

"Wonderful! Now you'll have to close the backpack just enough so no one can see me, ok? Then hold it tight and don't let anyone take it from you. Got it?"

Liam nodded eagerly. Henry tucked his head back down as Liam closed the zipper up over his head, then felt a gentle squeeze as the boy clutched tightly to his bag.

Almost instantly, Henry heard the barrier door creak open, followed by the excited shrieks of alarm that could only be Liam's family.

"Oh, baby, where have you been? What happened? Oh, please don't ever do that to me again! Come on, now let's go home. Hey, what's in the bag, bud? Oh, nevermind, let's just get you home, baby."

Short Story

About the Creator

Kelly Robertson

Wrangler of chaos. Creator of more. Writing whatever my heart desires, from fantasy to poetry and more!

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Comments (4)

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  • Roy Stevens3 months ago

    Beautiful descriptive language Kelly! "Dinosaurs danced across the worn, blue fabric, but the long, dangling strands at the bottom gave Henry an idea." This not only paints a picture, the alliteration makes it poetic. I'd like to read more about Henry and Liam- tons of potential!

  • Caroline Craven3 months ago

    Great story!

  • Quincy.V3 months ago

    Great job!

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    Oh my gosh how fun was this!!!? I love it 😁.

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