“Starling” by Cristina Ozon | Short Story Winner

She didn’t know how long it had taken her to break free from inside the egg. The hard shell was translucent against the daylight, and taking aim at where it was thinnest, she pounded with her fists and feet until there was a tiny crack, a pinprick of light. With scrabbling fingers she clawed and ripped and fought, the crack became a spiderweb, shattering at last.

Exhausted, she pulled herself through the membrane, and took her first, sweet gasp of air. She dragged her body from the shattered shell and collapsed on the bottom of the down-filled nest. It took her a moment, staring up at the bright green canopy of leaves in wonderment, before she noticed them.

Three hideous chicks. Featherless, sightless, crooked blue veins visible beneath their stubbly rosy-pink skin. They stared blindly skyward, their gaping beaks spread, pink tongues wriggling as they chirped incessantly, seeking, demanding to be fed.

She hated them.

The first one was the hardest. The indignant squawking, sharp feet and soft skin, but oh it was so satisfying as one by one, she nudged them out of the nest, tumbling helplessly to the earth far below.

Silence at last.

She lay down in the soft feathers, waiting for mother bird to bring her food.

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Words © 2018 Cristina Ozon. Image © 2018 Kit Sora.

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