A palace for peepers, p.2
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       A Palace for Peepers, p.2

           Marian Hailey-Moss
 
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were sanding the floor. They motioned Mia to step out of the way.

  Mia heard Nan call, “Keep going and open the large steel door to your right. Sorry, we’re remodeling.”

  Everywhere Mia looked there was debris. She made her way carefully through piles of wood scraps, bags of plaster, and cement rubble. Wires peeked out through the walls. She imagined the mess as the aftermath of a giant dinosaur sneeze.

  “Where do I go next?” Mia shouted.

  “You’re almost at the steel door. Just open it and I’ll meet you outside,” Nan yelled from somewhere.

  Mia continued dodging piles of debris until she reached the steel door. She pushed it open.

  Nan was there!

  Mia stood in the garden with Nan. Instead of the flowers Mia had expected, it was filled with boards of all sizes and pieces of plaster, large tools of every description, buckets, and wooden sawhorses. This was not the lush abode that Mia dreamt of the night before.

  Nan pointed past the rubble. “Over there is the birdhouse.”

  Peepers was very quiet in her carrying case.

  Mia took a few stumbling steps. There, in a small clearing, she saw a glorious structure covered in chicken wire. It must have been fifteen feet tall.

  The Palace..?

  There wasn’t a golden cage and Peepers wouldn’t have colored TV as Mia had imagined. But all the same it was... heaven!

  Inside were three other pigeons.

  Nan unlatched the birdhouse door and Mia carefully stepped inside. The three pigeons watched silently from their perches. Mia sat on a small bench and unpacked Peepers and her packet of Puppy Chow. The pigeons eyed them as Peepers and Mia performed their mealtime duet. Peepers ate excitedly from Mia’s hand. She paid no attention to her feathered neighbors or to the new sights and sounds in the garden.

  The three pigeons continued to study them.

  Nan introduced them. Pierre was an apricot beauty. He had been raised to be eaten at a French restaurant, but had been saved because Nan was able to adopt him, (for a price of course). Puffy, the butterball couldn’t fly and was waiting for her wing feathers to grow back. And then there was Squeaks. Squeaks, a youngster like Peepers, with similar black-and-white coloring, glanced at Peepers and then looked away. It was not love at first sight, as Mia had hoped.

  Mia left Peepers in the birdhouse and stood outside with Nan, trying to give Peepers emotional support. At first Peepers flew towards her only to be thrown back by the chicken wire. She then frantically flew to the other side of the spacious birdhouse, only to be met with the same chicken wire blockade.

  Peepers’s world had changed drastically from what it had been just hours before. She nervously sat on the small bench that she and Mia had shared. She looked at the other pigeons. They looked back. Only Puffy, who couldn’t fly, remained on Peepers’s level. Squeaks and Pierre stood stately on the highest perch, looking down. Their position on that highest perch told Peepers, below, that they were more important—more powerful than she was. In the bird world, the higher you are, the more supreme. Peepers was not on the ground, but she wasn’t at the top either.

  “Where will she find her place in the Palace?” Mia wondered. “Who will befriend her?”

  Mia knew it was time to go. She said goodbye to Peepers and slowly followed Nan up the ramp into the twilight. She was leaving precious Peepers with generous Nan. And she was leaving with a grateful but sad heart. Would Peepers learn all she needed to know from her fellow pigeons?

  Nan gave Mia a hug. “You can visit anytime you want.” She then excused herself and headed back into the mansion’s jumbled insides.

  Mia visited whenever she could. She watched Peepers get bigger and stronger as the weeks went by. Peepers had learned to eat seed by herself without being hand fed.

  One afternoon, while visiting Peepers, Mia noticed a new pigeon in the Palace.

  His name was Hubert. He was jet black with an injured left wing. He needed a safe place to stay until it mended. Mia could see Hubert liked Peepers, and Peepers liked Hubert. They always sat together on a perch. Nan said that they snuggled at night. It seemed that Hubert was going to be the ideal partner for Peepers’s future.

  One day, Nan told Mia that she thought that Peepers and Hubert were ready to leave the Palace. Nan opened the door. Peepers didn’t know what to do. Hubert knew, all right, but he didn’t want to leave the friendly, cozy world of the Palace.

  The two just sat.

  Nan opened the Palace door wide every day. There was a big world out there with a tempting big sky above.

  Peepers and Hubert still did not budge.

  Finally, on the fifth day, it was Peepers who dared to leave the Palace and fly to a tree nearby. Hubert waited several minutes and then followed. The two sat in that tree for a long, long time.

  And then... they flew away.

  They were doing what they were born to do—enjoying the trees and sky and soaring with the wind.

  Hopefully, Peepers would never forget the people who cared for her: Mia in her apartment and Nan at the Palace.

  But Peepers is a wild bird.

  And together with her friend, Hubert, she is savoring freedom. Flying above the streets, towering buildings, parks and rivers, she is home at last. The New York City skies are her true Palace.

  © 2012 marian hailey-moss and andrea end

  Thanks to

  Rita McMahon, Karen Heidgerd,

  Stefanie Rinza, Carlton Hobbs, and Shannon

  Special thanks to Supreme Master Ching Hai

  Wild Bird Fund –The Wild Bird Fund’s mission is to provide medical care and rehabilitation to injured, ill, and orphaned wildlife of New York City and to release them back to the wild. They are a non-profit 501(c)(3) and the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in New York City. www.wildbirdfund.org

  About the Author

  Marian Hailey-Moss is a former actress and semi-retired psychotherapist. She is vegan and lives in New York City. www.marianhaileymoss.com

  Andrea End is a former advertising copywriter, a mother, a grandmother and has written children's books. She is a native New Yorker.

  About the Artist

  Marc Chalvin is a Parisian artist who fills his drawings and his animations with life, whimsy, and wisdom.

  Other children’s books by Marian Hailey-Moss

  Teatime with Sophie

  A Dog Named Randall

  (with Mark Wilk)

  Milky Whey’s Dream

  Mister Pepper’s Secret

  An Elephant Called Butterfly

  (with Lois Meredith)

  An Elephant Called Mira

  PEACEFOOD

 
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