Literary tag #2: At the Border

Written one sentence at a time by the attendees of the Tharunka livestream, 23rd April 2020.

Once upon a time there was a bird. The bird saw a raging fire heading towards it, over in the Western stretches of New South Wales. It craned its neck and soared down next to the fire. The air smelled thick and heady with eucalyptus. And so the bird kept flying on, flying on further and further away, to save what little remained to it. The bird kept flying and flying until it reached the border between New South Wales and Queensland. At the border was a town that wasn’t quite New South Wales and not quite Queensland, but was just a little bit of both. And in that town there was a man who spent his days selling fishing line.

He had hung out his fishing nets to dry. It was an odd place to sell fishing line, considering they were quite far inland, but nonetheless he had a booming business. No-one could quite tell why, but he drew tourists every year. The tourists came from far and wide, from within Australia and overseas, to see the beautiful inland salt-lake, and to take plenty of beautiful Instagram photos.

The bird soared down next to the salt water lake. At the lake there were no fish, but there were weeds growing out of the edge of the water, and the bird landed in them. Knowing nothing about the flora which was foreign to the bird, the bird stooped down to have a taste. It turned out that the storekeeper had left all his tackle there, and the bird ravenously tucked in to every single morsel. The shopkeeper when he returned found a very sleepy bird which was covered in ash smelling weirdly of eucalyptus. All his bait was gone. But the kindly old storekeeper took pit on this majestic animal, and he took the bird to the Wildlife Protection Agency Office.

Due to recent funding cuts from the state government, he was turned away and had to find some other place to find some other place to care for the bird. He tried and tried to find a new place for it, but each day, he ended up bringing the bird home with him, to sleep just another night more. But being an eclectic fishing shop owner, he knew very little of how to care for birds, and it grew sicker and sicker in his care.

He put an add out on Gumtree for an ornithologist. One responded, but unfortunately it had nothing to do with the bird – they just thought that the storekeeper was cute. Unfortunately, there was very little this ornithologist could do, as the border between New South Wales and Queensland was still closed due to CoVid-19.

So he went to his local library and picked up a copy of Audibon’sBirds. He began to study every day every night, he would read about birds and eventually he gave up his profession of selling merchandise to do with fishing, and instead opened a bird sanctuary. And the first bird, hopefully, was fine, and lived happily ever after.