(If anyone knows who made this beautiful picture, let me know so I can give credit! I found this on a Google search)
Bird and Fish: The Elongated Story
By Dana Render
One day there was a beautiful bird flying around a clear glass lake. She was cheerful and she fluttered her wings against the wind with such vigor until she felt she had no more strength and she would surely fall out of the sky into the lake. The lake was mysterious, beautiful, but frightening because this bird knew she could not swim nor could she breath under water. In those moments when she had no more power to fly she would allow herself to fall with her beak facing the shining sun and her eyes closed. In the precise moment that her tail-feather glazed the surface she would flap her wings with all her might and lift off into the air again. The bird loved this thrilling exercise and it made her feel weak and strong all at the same time.
Bird had a peculiar beauty. She didn’t have rainbow feathers like her friends. She didn’t have full downy feathers like her cousins. No, Bird had short feathers. They were the color of the deepest cobalt blue with shimmering bronze tips that reflected in the sun. She had a lightning strike of brilliant emerald in the middle of her head. Bird never thought that she was a pretty bird. The other animals found her striking, but never the prize beauty that was whispered about among all the other creatures. Bird sometimes felt lonely because she was so different than the other birds. There were none that looked like her. Even her parents were sprightly colored, long-winged fowl. The male birds were intimidated by her, even thought she was good-natured, and had a very sweet song. Most times they never hung around long enough to hear it. So Bird sang to herself and her Maker – the One who loved her dearly and made the sun shine for her acrobatics. She was always surrounded with warmth even when other creatures thought she was just plain silly.
Bird would fly far distances to find the best berries and seeds. She would bring some back to share with her family and friends. They loved the exotic treats, and Bird loved sharing her spoils. The other birds didn’t understand why she didn’t just eat the local provisions. Bird didn’t understand why others didn’t want to explore and see what else was available to their liking. While Bird had a very good life, she sometimes felt there was something missing.
In the clear glass lake there was a fish. He was lovely fish that was different than the others in his school. He was not as long, but his scales were a brilliant yellow. His parents didn’t know where he got his color, and all of the other silver and blue fish thought he was quite strange. Fish loved to swim all the way to the surface. He would swim up so fast that he would burst through the gentle current and twist his body before splashing down back into the lake. Sometimes Fish would do this several times in a row, exhausting himself. The other fish would tell him he was crazy, and that he would make his gills burst doing such mad things. Fish didn’t care. What was life without testing the limits of constraints? Was there nothing beyond the natural boundaries? Was it fear keeping everyone in line, or was it choice? Maybe their concern was wisdom of destruction. Besides, Fish knew that he could not live outside of the water, but he still liked to experience the way the sun made him feel when he exited his aquatic home.
Fish was very different. He sometimes swam backwards. His friends thought maybe he was just showing off, but Fish was always trying to change the game. Did they have to do what they were told they were supposed to do, and was that the only thing they could do? From the time they hatched, the fish were told to swim forward and swim quickly. Fish wanted to challenge this construct – maybe even prove that it wasn’t even necessary. Sometimes he would go to the furthest depths of the lake and bury himself under the sand and hide for days. Fish sometimes wished that he could disappear, but he was always found. The female fish were attracted to his scales, but they didn’t really like his adventures. They thought he was too risky and thus decided that maybe he was not a good partner. They thought that he was not responsible, but Fish was quite the opposite.
Fish would think of the cleverest ways to escape from predators. He knew all of the hiding places and could map out in an instant how to get there no matter where he was at any given moment, even if he had never been there before. Fish had a keen eye for detail, and was a natural strategist. He was also a fast swimmer, which helped a lot. One day while Fish was doing his high jumps, he closed his eyes to bask in the sun. Suddenly something heavy hit him and he violently came crashing back into the lake. He didn’t know what hit him, but he remembered seeing flashes of blue, bronze, and green. There was thrashing about disturbing the serenity of the lake. Fish felt a sharp scratch across his back and went into shock. He fell to the bottom of the lake until late in the night. Fish was a little angry because even though his scales made him stand out awkwardly, he was still proud of them. Now he had a huge scar on his back where the scales were scratched off. He felt ugly, but there was nothing he could do about it now. Maybe in a month or so, the scales would fall off and new ones would come in their place. Fish sulked for a little while and he even hid because he didn’t want the others to ask him about his scar.
A few weeks later, Fish was feeling a little better. The scar began to fade as it healed and some new scales were coming in. This gave Fish some confidence, and he started going out on adventures again – except he kept his eyes open. As he was patrolling a new area of the lake away from the large schools, he happened to look up and see this thing flying and diving about. He thought it was really beautiful. It was in the distance and he couldn’t tell what it was, but he knew it was some kind of creature of the air. He gazed and was a bit envious of its ability to fly. Fish began to dream of what it would feel like to fly around.
It was Bird. She was up to her usual daredevil exercises, but she was being more cautious. She had an encounter with death a few weeks earlier. She was free falling when she hit something wet. It scared her, and she plunged right into the lake. Not knowing how to swim she flailed about. She felt her claws scratch something and when she was finally able to pull herself out of the lake she noticed these brightly colors scales caught between her talons. They were exquisite and exotic! She had never see such brilliance in the lake before. She kept them in her nest and she looked at them fondly every night wondering what creature possessed such beauty. She felt bad because she had these scales and they weren’t given to her. She wanted to give them back so she would put them into her chest feathers in case she saw the creature one day.
Fish squinted up… it was a bird. “A bird? Really? Why would a bird be doing such crazy things around a lake? Especially a bird that clearly didn’t eat fish.” He gawked and studied this bird. This bird was very striking and pretty. He couldn’t take his eye off of her deep, boldly colored feathers and marking. He stood still in the water, not moving a muscle (another skill he had mastered), and watched as this bird seemed to master the air. Bird, on the other hand, saw a bright yellow shape in the water and she immediately knew it was a fish. “A yellow fish? Oh my, it’s the fish I hit a few weeks ago!” She wanted to give the scales back. Without thinking she dove closer to the water. Fish got scared, he didn’t want to get hit again and he began to swim backward frantically. Bird didn’t know what to do, she was calling out, “Mr. Fish! Don’t go, I don’t want to hurt you!” Fish screamed back, “How do I know?! Crazy bird, what are you doing?!”
Then Bird reached into her chest feathers and pulled out a scale. “Does this belong to you?” Fish stopped in his tracks and an immediate serge of anger washed over him. So that irresponsible pest was responsible for marring him.
“Yes, that is mine!” He snapped.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to take your scales. It was an accident. I have been looking for you since it happened. I really wanted to give them back. I am truly sorry, please accept my apology!”
By this time, Bird was hovering over the water right above Fish. She had tears in her eye. She dropped the scale in front of Fish. He looked at the scale and looked at Bird. His eyes darted back and forth between the two several times. Suddenly, one of her tears hit him on the head. Her tear was like a cool rain, and it extinguished his anger. She was sorry and it must have been an accident.
“It’s OK, please don’t cry!” Fish pleaded.
Bird wiped away her tears and took the rest of her scales from her feathers. She stared at Fish, and she couldn’t speak. She was drawn to him, not only because he was outwardly beautiful, but also because she could tell that he was special. She had never seen a fish swim backward before and she just witnessed this fish swim like backward like it was normal.
“Stop starting at me,” Fish retorted.
This made Bird snap out of her trance. “I am sorry,” she began, “I was just surprised by you. Not only are your scales beautiful but you have an extraordinary talent.”
Fish was embarrassed. No one in his school noticed or even cared about his backward swimming. This bird noticed. Why? “Thank you,” he eked. He noticed that Birds eyes were the color of his scales – bright yellow. He had never seen the color on anything other than himself. He was immediately drawn to her.
“Can you swim?” He asked.
“No,” Bird answered sadly.
“I may be able to teach you.”
“By showing you how to flap your wings like I do my fins, and use your tail like I use my tail.”
“But I can’t breathe under water.”
“That’s alright. You hold your breath. I do when I jump up out of the water. Try it now. Just don’t breath in at all.”
Bird tried it and she was able to hold her breath for almost a minute before needing air. Fish then instructed her land on the water and sit as if she were sitting on her nest, while moving her legs back and forth. Bird loved this. She now could land on the water. And if she didn’t move her legs she would stay in one place. She didn’t realize that she had natural buoyancy on water. She decided to stick her head under the water to practice holding her breath. It was so exciting!
The sun began to set and Bird had to go back home. She asked if she could have another lesson tomorrow and Fish agreed. Both Fish and Bird went to bed that night and they were both thinking about each other. What an exciting discovery they had made in each other! Both very much misunderstood by their own kind, but appreciated by each other.
The next day Bird came back with a small token for fish. She had a bronze coin that she found during one of her excursions, and she thought that Fish would enjoy it since it shimmered in the sun. Fish, thinking in the same niceties, brought up a small piece of smooth Obsidian. Fish knew that this it was rare and valuable, like Bird. When they met that day, they exchanged their gifts and were both delighted. What a unique seed of friendship that had been planted! Bird and Fish met day after day. Many times they would share gifts. Bird became a really good swimmer and she returned the favor why showing Fish how to fly – mostly by taking him for rides, but she also show him how to jump in a way that he would glide in the air for longer.
In the seventh year of Fish and Bird’s friendship, Bird began to feel twinges of pain in her heart. Most of Bird’s friends had migrated to other places and found their lifemates. While Bird felt very happy and joyful about her life, it seemed as if her community had gotten smaller and smaller. Fish was experiencing something similar, but he was not as concerned. However, he felt Bird’s lament. She wasn’t as cheerful as she had been in the beginning. Bird couldn’t figure out why she felt the way she did. All she knew was that she cared deeply for Fish. She loved him, but it didn’t make sense. Bird thought maybe she and Fish should stop seeing each other. Maybe take some trips and explore a new nesting area to find community with others like herself. The thought of this brought Bird to tears.
One cloudy day Bird came to the lake and brought some beautiful and plump blackberries. Fish saw the sadness all over her countenance. He knew what she was feeling because he felt the same way.
“Bird, you don’t have to come here anymore if it’s too painful. I just want you to know that your friendship has been precious to me, but I can’t bear to see you hurting this way. I love you Bird, but we are too different to be together the way we both desire. You’re a bird and I am a fish. Where would we live?”
This made Bird burst into tears. She couldn’t speak and was overwhelmed with varying emotions. She left the lake and flew to her nest. She was alone. Bird stayed in her nest for the next three days. She wanted to continue with Fish, but how could she? She desperately wanted companionship, but how could they be true companions with the separation of air and water? Fish continued to come to their meeting place each day. He knew that Bird was not coming, but he hoped that maybe he would see her flying freely like she did in the earlier days of their friendship. Sometimes he brought trinkets he would find on his adventures. He would always bring them to the same place in hopes that if one day Bird came that he would give them all to her. He missed Bird. He knew that she missed him too, but he let her go for her own sake. Maybe she would find another friend that would be able to provide the lifetime companionship she really needed. This broke Fish’s heart, but he felt it was the right thing to do. At least, it seemed that way to him.
Nine months went by. Bird had been on a few adventures. She was scoping out a new nesting site. She couldn’t bear her current home any longer. She wanted to make new memories, but ultimately she wanted to share them with Fish. Bird found a wonderful waterfall with luscious groves of vines and plenty of exotic fruits. There was also a huge tree in the basin that was hollow. Bird explored the tree and looked for signs that some other animal lived there. She found none. The waterfall reminded her of her friendship with Fish. It was at one point vibrant, refreshing, and fruitful. She wanted to always remember it that way. Bird decided that this would be her new home. She went back to her old home to say goodbye the loved ones that were still there. She also brought piece of bark from the tree for Fish. When she arrived back home to bid adieu, she looked for Fish. She wanted to make sure that he knew she was OK, and also formally say her farewell to him. She couldn’t find him. This made her frustrated. Little did she know that Fish was on his own search for a new home.
Bird took a deep breath and dove head first into the lake at the usual meeting place. She reached the bottom and placed the piece of bark along with one of her feathers under the pile of trinkets that were collected there. When she surfaced, she gathered her belongings and say goodbye to her family and friends. Bird was crafty and she had been collecting various materials to make a bag that could hold all of her belongings that she could carry in her beak to her new home. It was getting a little late and she was tired so she decided to fly at dawn. Also, she was hoping that maybe Fish would come back soon.
Fish was exploring a new aquaculture and he was truly excited. He found a beautiful and oxygen rich waterfall. It was green and luscious there. Fish felt like this was such a wonderful place, and he wanted to explore it. He played at the base of the waterfall, letting the bubbles make him lost in the current of the falling water. After he tired of this he came to the surface and he saw a big a beautiful tree. This made him think of Bird. An overwhelming sadness overcame him, and he wasn’t feeling so positive about this new place anymore. He didn’t want to be constantly reminded of Bird if he couldn’t be with her. Night was coming and Fish decided to travel back to the lake in the morning.
Dawn arrived and Bird gathered her things. Simultaneously Fish began the journey back to the lake. Bird flew by the lake one last time. There was no sign of Fish. She arrived at her new home in the middle of the day. Bird got right to work making the tree fit all of her needs. She had so much space and she loved the fact that it was hollow. As she explored the depths of the tree she noticed that it was hollow all the way to the ground. Also the ground was very moist. Since the tree was right by this waterfall and river, it was no surprise. Bird began to dig. Soon water from the river began to trickle inside of the tree trunk. This excited Bird! She could have an indoor birdbath! She kept digging. At times she had to hold her breath and dig with her beak. Bird continued with this until she reached the river. She surfaced, exhaled heartily, and made her way back to the tree. The water cam flooding and Bird thought that maybe she had taken this project too far and now her new home would just be a water pipe! She was wrong. The pressure equalized and the water stopped midway into the trunk. Bird observed the water. It didn’t seep out. That was odd, but she was happy about this new discovery.
It was in that moment that Bird thought of Fish. “Fish could come here!” Bird was beside herself with excitement! She didn’t know if he would want to come or if he was even interested in being friends again since they had spent so much time apart. Bird knew that to make her new home complete, she needed companionship. She chose Fish. She hope he would choose her back. She decided that the only way was to bring him to this place and hope that he would like it as much as she did. Bird flew around until she found an old plastic pitcher in an abandoned cabin in the woods. She could carry Fish back with her in the pitcher! By this time she made this discovery, it was evening. Her plan would have to wait until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, when Fish returned, he immediately went to his usual spot he saw the bark and feather that Bird had left for him. At that moment Fish was decided. He wanted to be with Bird no matter what. He didn’t care what it took he; knew they belonged together. Fish was exhausted from his journey so he decided that tomorrow would begin the plan to find his way back to Bird.
Before the sun came up, Bird was flying furiously with the pitcher back to the lake. As the sun came over the horizon, she felt warmth of a new day and she was inspired. When she arrived at the lake she saw Fish! He was in their waiting spot. Fish was sleeping. He had fallen asleep there the evening before. As she arrived she began to sing. It was a melody that Fish had heard before. He thought he was dreaming. He opened his eyes and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It was Bird! He leapt into the air rejoicing at the return of his dear Bird.
The two met in the air, and then quickly fell in the water.
“Bird, I am glad you came back. Let’s never part again! I don’t see the reason for it. Please come back to live near this lake,” Fish requested hopefully.
“No. I can’t do that,” Bird explained.
Fish was immediately crushed. He was angry. “Why not?!” he demanded.
“I have a new home. But I don’t want to be without you. Will you come back with me?”
Well this changed things a little. Fish’s heart leapt with joy, but then he became sullen. How would he get to her new home and where would he live? Bird knew what he was thinking.
“Just trust me, Fish. It will be OK.”
Fish dove to the bottom of the lake and he began to flail around making the sand sir up along with the all of the trinkets he had been collecting. He swam to the top. “Bird, these are for you.” Of course bird was flattered. She took the pitcher and collected all of the awesome love gestures from Fish. Then she told Fish to hop in. Fish hesitated a little because he knew that this adventure would be permanent. He didn’t know what Bird had in mind, but it was now or never. He hopped in the pitcher. Bird excitedly flew into the air splashing water about from the pitcher.
“BIRD SLOW DOWN! YOU’RE GONNA DROP ME!!!”
Bird slowed down. She was so happy that Fish agreed to come back with her. When they arrived to the top of the waterfall, Fish began to get excited. He had been there before! In fact, he was just there! He screamed to Fish, “Are we here?!” Bird nodded her head in agreement. Fish beamed. They had found their special place at different times in their own solitude, not even realizing that it would be a place for the both of them. Then he saw it…the tree that reminded him of Bird. Fish knew that he would be happy here.
When Bird got to the tree she went inside. Fish was amazed at the work Bird had done to the inside. She placed the pitcher down on a ledge that she had her cousin Woodpecker carved for her. The ledge came just at the level of the water and it was large enough to hold her nest and the pitcher. Bird looked into Fish’s eyes.
“Fish…we can live here. Look, the water comes in through the bottom of the tree through a tunnel I dug. You can come and go as you please. We can be happy here. You can be on the ledge with me or you can be in the water. Or I can be in the water…this is perfect, right?”
Fish was speechless. He just looked around. Bird began to get worried because of his silence.
Finally he spoke, “Bird, will you be mine forever?” Fish continued, “I couldn’t be more honored than to make this our home.”
Bird began to sing. She picked up the pitcher and took it outside. She stopped at the edge of the river where it met the base of the tree. She emptied Fish into the river and he swam around. Then he disappeared. Bird looked around, but she couldn’t find him. She put the pitcher down on the shore and circled around the river. Then heard Fish’s voice echo from somewhere. “BIRRDDDDD!!! COME HERE!” He was yelling from inside of the tree! Bird flew to he tree and she saw Fish’s smiling face. This was good. Bird was content and so was Fish. Bird poured the trinkets at the base of the tree and was able to piece out “F and B.” It was official. They were home!
Bird and Fish lived for many years in their tree house bath along the river. They weathered storms. Shared many meals full of plump worms and berries. They grew old together. They made memories. They loved.
A fish and a bird fell in love. They had no place to live. Instead, they created a home.