By around mid day I have plucked this bird until my hands are sore and it is looking rather naked. Many of the feathers were not as useful as I had hoped they would be so I threw them into the river. Better that than having somebody able to follow me. The ones that will be of use to me have been stuffed into my rapidly growing pack. Building a small fire is easy enough, especially when there are so many trees about. With my bird roasting away I feel almost homely. It smells fantastic, I’m not even going to bother looking for something to go with it, it’s going to be wonderful on its own. I look again at the beak. I’ve not been brave enough to go near it but I can’t help thinking that it’s going to be useful at some point. I have no idea what for, it’s not like I can fight, and making someone think that I can fight is just going to get me into all kinds of trouble. Still, I don’t have any kind of blade with me and if that beak is as sharp as it looks it will come in very handy. This brings me to my next issue, how am I going to get it off of the head? As far as I remember beaks are very much attached to the skull so it’s not going to be an easy task. I’ll eat first, then figure out what to do.
A full stomach is exactly what I needed. I feel like I can walk forever, run, even dance. This meat has given me so much energy I’m not sure what to do with it all. Everything is packed up, with the exception of the beak because I couldn’t manage to do anything with that other than cut my fingers. So it got thrown into the river. I’m walking again, faster than the last few days. My pack is full but it doesn’t feel heavy and the ground seems to just flow noiselessly beneath me. Is this what it feels like for the rest of my class? I can’t imagine that it is, this is something new, something different. I have to tell them about it if I ever go home. I’m sure they would believe me. I freeze. There is smoke up ahead. This is the first sign of life I’ve seen since leaving the village seventeen sun risings ago. I want to run to them, to tell them about myself and where I come from. I stop myself just in time. What if they’re dangerous? What if they have no interest in telling some strange forest dweller about their lives? They could be like the mountain folk and decide to eat me, or be like the plainsmen and simply trample me with their horses. No, I cannot rush into this. I’m going to have to watch them first, just for a little bit, to see what they do.
I sneak towards the smoke, edging forwards around trees, telling myself over and over that I must not make a sound. There’s a small fire ahead of me, with one lonely man sat by it. Perhaps he has friends keeping a watch out; perhaps one of them is looking at me looking at this man. What if the other friend is looking at the first friend looking at me looking at this man...I have to shake that thought from my head because it’s just too confusing. Looking at the man, he doesn’t at all seem dangerous. He’s just vaguely poking his small fire with a stick, head resting on his hand. He doesn’t even have any food going. I dare to move a few more inches forwards, so that I’m almost out of my hiding place. The man lets out a heavy sigh, puts down the stick and flops his head into the palms of both hands. I’ve sat in
that position many times before, I know what it means. Even if this guy is dangerous he needs someone to just say hello right now. It’s not nice to be alone by a slightly pathetic fire.