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Ciara Cagemoe

United States

A head, my head, is chock full of whimsy and half in the clouds.
When I write I pull down the thick cotton fluff from the sky and wind it into a thread of a tale.

Message to Readers

Tell me whatever you wish, or whatever suits you.
Anything and everything would be much appreciated, obliged, and helpful. (Although, constructive criticism more so than harsh, un-constructive criticism.)

Mattie Chatten's Question for Determining Which Friends are True Friends

February 6, 2016

My name is Mattie Chatten.
This fact is not purely hodiernal; tomorrow it shall remain Mattie and yesterday it was definitely Chatten. But yesterday I wasn’t just the Mattie Chatten of toujours. Yesterday I was a brave Mattie and mortified, very mortified, Chatten.
I am, of course, referring to another fact pertaining to myself (not a character flaw, a character embellishment!): my insatiable acrophobia. Heights make a bawking hen of me. I would think myself hoddy-noddy for even considering climbing a tree, and anyone who would’ve told me I’d someday find my petrified self shimming my chicken derrière up one I'd consider them equally hoddy-noddy had I not just done exactly so yesterday. Resulting in the above mortified Chatten, brave Mattie.  
    As one can imagine, I’m not exactly in the business of frequenting the tippy-toppies of trees. But Oscar is, so I had to give it a gulping go.
I don’t know what it is about them, but I am enchanted-no, ensorcelled!-by Aquila chrysaetos chrysaetos. European Golden Eagles. Well, truly, they are more of a rusty shade of brown, an oxidized pipe thrown amidst a vat of milk chocolate. But in essence they sparkle. To me, they are the coins lapped up by pirates in all those old, silly, seafoamy tales.
When I see them fly, I feel as if my insides have curdled into a marvelous, royal jelly and my eyes are delighted to see such a sparkling, feathery thing gliding above me. A shooting star. Perhaps my fascination revolves around my fear; their life depends on something I actively avoid with my own.
Before Oscar, my best friend was my binoculars, Marcus. Marcus and I were thick as thieves and often could be found amidst thickets looking out for thieves and other interesting optical delights. Yesterday that is where we were when we encountered the Oscar dilemma.
    The sky was a drawer full of overflowing cerulean, balls of wispy cotton stuffed in the corners.
“Say, Marcus, keep yourself fresh. The sky’s lovely---so the news better be. I’ve got a feeling something very interesting is to turn up today.” I said, my fingers fitting into their grooves on the binoculars. Turning the dial; Chit, chit, chit. Focused.
    An ant was speeding up my leg, a glossy black smudge. The grass beneath me was an itchy green, resiliently tickling my ankles in its quarrel with the wind. The rock I sat on was sharp, so I might as well have been sitting on a tack. But none of those things mattered; I was scanning the horizon, my eyes and body projected somewhere else, far, far away.
    That is when I inhaled sharply, a hiss escaping my mouth absently as the fresh, sweet air of wildflowers flowed in. I spotted a shooting star, and now I was making a wish. My body was stuck in the most annoying state of shock for a second that lapsed as an hour before I shot upright, the bolt in the lock clicking undone. My limbs being my own again, I reigned them in and pursued.
    Marcus bobbed at my chest, a thump thump thump matching the beating of my heart.
The eagle was très superbe. Outstretched wings, arms reaching down, beckoning me to follow. Gliding on nothing and everything I couldn’t see and never will. I followed, down a rocky decline, groaning as I stumbled over a piece of gnarled tree root and Marcus slammed the breath out of my chest. I found myself on the ground, flowers laughing at my ears and my star shooting away from me still.
“Eagles don’t wait,” I told my legs, “allons-y!” My legs obliged. Until I chased the eagle to it’s source---that’s when they failed me and started to shake like a fault.
    The eagle flew up and over an enormous jumble of sticks, twigs and discarded something-or-others. This jumble of sticks being on a rather high and sturdy branch of pine. Although my legs recoiled, my eyes bulged.
    Marcus was at my eyes as fast as my hands would move and a chit, chit, chit later I was focusing on two offspring standing in a nest. Marcus was always there to confirm my suspicions for me. To help me see things I otherwise couldn’t. Marcus liked to give me opportunities.
    My heart did a somersault and my chest filled with an odd, fluttery substance. Not only was Marcus showing me two offspring, but something horrific. Horrific, I tried to tell myself, but natural. You should consider yourself lucky, I said, to be able to observe such behaviors. But no, I was mortified--more so than I was by heights and their high businesses.
I saw a display of Cainism. Siblicide. My ears picked up the distinctive pew, pew sound of eagle chatter but they didn’t hear it. My mouth went dry and death creeped up my throat. My hairs stood up and my body went cold. I was afraid and all I could absorb was the bill of the larger offspring striking and striking the neck of the smaller...was that a red spattering?!
“Oh my clouds! Marcus, I have to do something.” I knew that little downy puff wasn’t only going to get redder and redder, but would eventually die (if not from the neck wounds) from starvation. It would accept that, or so I had read. But I couldn’t stand by and watch.
    Not when I could save a life that had only just begun. An eagle life at that! I threw marcus on the ground, wincing, and placed my hands on the closest branch to my head. My fingers curled around a sticky, sickly sweet smelling substance. Sap. The tree glue. Trees. Tall trees. I’m about to climb a tree! My thoughts started to swirl and I felt like I would puke or hyperventilate or faint, perhaps all at once, and I hadn’t even lifted my feet from the ground yet. I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and brought to mind the gruesome, murderous image: Peck, peck, peck. It’s going to die if I don’t go up and retrieve it or do something. It’s going to die. You are not. Come on Mattie, bravery is about mortification. You can’t be brave without some fear. You have the fear all right, and you’ve always wanted to be brave. My thoughts were a bit consoling. So instead of looking down, I opened them and looked up. I gulped and go-ed. Hand, foot, hand, foot, push. I pulled myself a couple feet off of the ground, five, maybe ten.
    The bark was rough against my palms and felt alien. I felt vulnerable. The wind blew and the tree danced with it, rocking slightly. My body convulsed and I found myself hugging the body of the tree for all my muscles were worth. My teeth chattered horribly and something salty was starting to spread slowly down my face, a poison seeping into my head that I thought I had left on the ground.
The ground! I looked and nearly fell. My breathing quickened and my stomach tightened into a knot that was almost unbearable. The heart inside my chest felt as if it was trying to escape and run away from me. I felt like I’d die there, in that instance. And then I saw Marcus lying on the ground.
    I closed my eyes again, took four deep breaths (or tried too, they came out shuddery and rushed despite my attempt), and pretended I was there with marcus on the golden ground of old needles.
“Mattie Chatten! Get a grip on yourself, get a grip on this tree and fly up it like an eagle so you can rescue one!” I would have liked Marcus to say, so I pretended it did. One last breath and the image of a dead eagle baby in my bloody hands prompted me to gulp and go again.
    Each inch upwards wasn’t the surest; slippery and uncertain but determined, my hands and feet stuck (Truly, my limbs were covered in sap).
I was so preoccupied with my climbing I almost climbed my way past the nest.
My breath hitched as I gazed upon the two fledglings, at least 20 days of age (as they were standing and the parents not presently attending them) but not quite 25 (their downy was still pure white puff). They stood on ribbed, dark legs with fierce beaks and beady, accusing eyes. The smaller of the two cocked its head at me, the eyes swimmy and grey, a red stain and reopened scab dotting its neck. I gasped, and my head filled with an empathetic sorrow. I adored these animals, seeing one harmed broke my heart just twidge (what was left to be broken, that is. What hadn’t broken on the way up here).
Nothing is perfect, Mattie, don’t idealize things. Biting my lip, a bit of pain to distract the brash act I was about to perform.
I did it fast, because I knew I’d need to in order to do it at all. My feet secure in an enigma of ladder-like, pocked branches, I extended my arms sudden as I dared and grasped the body of the small one. The larger inched its beak violently towards my arm in slow motion, and my arms recoiled faster than I knew my reflexes worked.
And so I found myself sweaterless, shivering in the brisk wind, stumbling down a tree and onto the ground to my beloved Marcus. A ball of sweater and surprisingly calm fledging amidst my arms (he's so soft!).
Oscar. The name appeared in my mouth suddenly, but I welcomed it.
Oscar cooed, and looked into my eyes again with that cocked head. I knew Oscar had wanted to be rescued. I knew I’d do mon meilleur to raise him. I knew we’d become an unstoppable duo of the press: I’d write the news articles on my typewriter, and Oscar would distribute the papers to the people. That is what I saw when I looked into his little glossy eyes.
Oscar shifted in his bundle of sweater, seemingly having decided something, and putting his beak to one of his feathers he yanked sharply. Following a plucking noise and a little shriek from Oscar, he handed me a perfect little feather of his downy. I reached out my hand and he opened his beak to let the fluffy little thing gently sift through the air to rest on my dirty palm.
I was bewildered. My admiration was peaking and started to overflow within me. I felt warm and glowy, and knew that Oscar’s gift was one of never ending loyalty, love and the best of friendships. I hugged him, as best as a teenaged human can hug a fledgling eagle.
From Oscar I have gotten the ultimate question. The question for determining which friends are true friends and which companions the closest:
If you were an eagle, would you give me a feather?
Several words are in French. 
Toujours--everyday
Derrière--butt
Très superbe-- Very magnificent/superb/superlative
Allons-y-- Come on!/Let's go!
Mon meilleur---my best
 

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