Adya Agarwal Gupta

I was different to them, like Reynie was different. That’s why we were so alone and so together. But, let me go back to when Reynie didn’t come home. I was stuck in yet another tedious flying lesson, no Reynie to be seen. Suddenly, there was a tremendously ear-piercing squawk! I knew it was Reynie since he was using our birdcall. Fluttering down, I saw a mess of blood, feathers and cracked bones. Then I saw a cat, licking its lips contently. Reynie didn’t come back and I was desperately trying to hold myself together. It was upto me to keep his name alive.

Every speed session was a new, vitriolic reminder of Reynie. That menacing squawk went unmarked. Reynie was easily forgotten to the teacher and the other gulls. Soon all went back unperturbed to the same old lessons. Soaring fast was their only objective, not soaring high. It was too unbearable. Either way, I’d find my mind wandering, and my focus evaporating.

“Harry!” Our strict teacher would chastise, making me zoom around aimlessly even more. No one understood my pain or my solitude. It may not have shown, since I was always around a few friends; but inside, there was no one. Often I daydreamed. I knew I should just try to escape these dreadful classes. Everything was painful. Everything reminded me of Reynie, even my own feathers. I kept leaving. Visting Reynie’s tombstone was my one encouragement. Knowing that he was happy was my pride. Nothing could cheer me up like him. Not even the other seagulls.

I’m nothing like them. I’m different. I aspire to soar the highest and farthest, not the fastest. I aspire to make Reynie proud, the way his captivating grin would overwhelm me so. It meant risking getting caught by my teachers. It meant lying; but it also meant knowing that Reynie would grin proudly. Risks (these risks at least) were well worth taking. Even if I got caught.

It’s possible, I could get caught. But it wouldn’t be bad. I desperatelt wanted to stay with Reynie’s dream. It may mean I had to do extra flying sessions, but it also meant knowing that I tried to keep his dream alive. However my expectations were nothing compared to the reality. I was a little lamb, cowering under the flock of wolves about to pounce.
“Harry Gull side!” The Elders called out one day at the meeting. I stepped forward.
“I haven’t seen you in a while! Have I?”
I felt my eyes sting; I shook my head, lowering my beak solemnly.
“And why is that?” They asked.
I could not respond. Not to that. I merely kept my head bowed. Though it was a point more to the Elders, I would rather bear the extra classes or consequences than give up on Reynie. I glanced towards my parents, mournfully. Their glares only contained spite and disappointment. They shook their heads. I lowered my eyes again.

The Elders asked me to show my techniques, none of which I had mastered. I looked up, all of a sudden. I had skipped all the classes where we were taught this! I I failed at ALL!

I knew my fate. It wasn’t even extra classes. It was something I had never hoped for in a millennia. But it was a storm, unstoppable, hurling my way.

I was removed.

“You are an utter disgrace to the Bird Community. Not even the simplest of skills mastered! And where are you at lessons? Nowhere to be found! Why? Why? Why are you such an outcast? Why can’t you pay attention? You are an outcast. You are about to be outcast. And, make no mistake, it’s your choice Harry!” The Elders chastised, tutting sadly.
I shook my head, hoping it was a dream. But they pushed me away, grabbing my beads, marking my position in the Bird Community. An outcast. Pushing me to the edge, my own parents pushed me off. I flew down, plummeting and not soaring high. My dreams dropped as I did, landing with a bounce next to Reynie’s tombstone.
“We’re both removed, Reynie! One from this world, and one from his dreams!” I sobbed.