Posts Tagged With: Carrier Pigeons

103: Ring Out

Chelsi stood in the crowed semi-circle on the lawn of the Lusaka Peace Corps office.  Having arrived a few minutes late with her friends Thomas and Janelle, they were positioned at the outside of the circle, facing in towards the rim of a car wheel, painted white and suspended from a tree.  Leon, Peace Corps Zambia’s country director was make some statement about how proud he was of all of those who had completed two years of service in country.  The sound of his voice mostly passed through Chelsi’s ears as noise. She personally felt that a lot of the administration in Lusaka thought of volunteers as a nuisance; that their jobs would be much easier if only there weren’t any volunteers.

“Good thing we left early,” Thomas whispered.

“Even though we were late?” Chelsi laughed.

“I know, I can’t believe they moved up the time by a half an hour, then only told like a handful of people,” Janelle whined.

“Well, you know, they did it for people like you guys, who are trying to get to the airport by 10 this morning.”

“I know, I told Cleopher to have Janelle and I be some of the first to ring out so that we can get in a cab right away.”

Ring out, Chelsi thought to herself, the ceremonial whacking of a stick against the car wheel, signaling the end of a Peace Corps Volunteers service.  Chelsi wasn’t one for a lot of pomp and circumstance.  But she wasn’t here for herself, she was here to support and say good bye to all the friends. It was the final day of their service; Thomas and Janelle, Ryder, Tyler, Laura, Jason.

“Where’s Jason?” Chelsi asked looking around.  They had seen him on the street, walking away from the office. He was trying to say something about identification. But that was some time ago and it was nearly his turn to ring out.

The Program Manager for the LIFE project started listing the names of the volunteers.  One by one, the volunteers walked to the center of the circle, took the stick from Leon, whacked the wheel, returned the stick, received a commemorative Peace Corps Zambia pin, and shook some hands.

“I don’t know,” Thomas replied looking around. “We saw him walking the wrong direction on the street. Figured though he’d have made it by now.”

“How come, how come, how come they’re not passing out certificates?” Janelle ask, staring intently between Leon and the Program Managers.

“We already got our certificates of completion.” Chelsi started, “remember at the COS conference? They passed them out on the second day.”

“But then why did you get one? And Oli! You guys are extending, or what if someone Early Terminated during community exit? They wouldn’t have completed!”

“Admin probably figures, if you made it this far, then close enough.” Thomas laughed.

Cleopher, the Manager of Chelsi’s Rural Aquaculture Promotion program, took the center of the circle.  He had already made his speech about what a joy we had all been to work with, and how he wished us nothing but the best in our future endeavors.  So he went straight into calling names.

“Janelle that’s you,” Thomas nudged her forward when her name was called.

“What! What! Do I do? Is this it?” she walked forward looking a little dazed, but her feet fell in line with the rest.

“Jason!” Cleopher called out next.

The circle was silent. Then there was crashing sound at the security gate.

“Sorry, sorry… sorry, sorry, sorry,” Jason came stumbling out from the guard house. “Don’t worry everyone, the Train is here,” he called walking quickly across the parking yard.

The perimeter of the circle parted ways to let him through.  “Oh Jason, it’s nice to see you could make it,” Cleopher laughed as he pasted him stick.  Jason walked out to the center of the circle, turned his left forearm to the sky and pressed the tip of the stick in to the head of the serpent tattooed on his arm.

“May the dark lord rise again,” the eternal Voldemort fan shouted, before casting a spell at the wheel and returning the stick to Cleopher.

Spotting his friends in the circle, Jason came to stand by Thomas, Janelle and Chelsi.

“Glad to see you made it, Jason,” Thomas squeezed his shoulders.

“Yeah, man, just in time to leave.”

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Categories: Action, Current Events, Drama | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

047: Free the Birds

“Todays the day! Todays the day!” Chelsi excitedly rubbed Daisy’s face between her hands.  The air warm but the cement floor was cold on her feet.  She pulled back the curtains, and pushed open the rear window.  Leaning out the window, the way she did every morning. She could see her large bird house, brightly painted flowers showing and bits of grass thatch poking through the net covering.  A few of her birds were perched on the sticks holding together the house stand. After this morning she would no longer have to bring them plates of food twice a day, check their water every hour.  After five weeks I finally get to remove the net, and the birds will be free.
“Odi!” Menace’s deep voice boomed from the front of her house. 
“Naiya!” Quickly, Chelsi slipped on her skirt over her undershorts and rushed out the door to greet Menace.
“Juba jikatampe!” Chelsi exclaimed throwing her arms into the air.  Menace laughed.
“Eee.”
“Thank you for coming to help.  My hope is the net comes off easier than it went on. Let me just grab the chair and stool from the house and I’ll meet you over there.” Chelsi ducked back into the house. 
She reappeared to find Menace had ignored her, probably for the best. She was struggling with the odd shape and size of the chair. “Here, can you take this?” she thrust it at him. “I’m going to grab the scissors too, cause we’ll probably need them to cut some of the ropes.”
Chelsi and Menace positioned the chair and stool so they were on either side of the house, then they started picking at the rubber ropes holding the containment net in place over the house.  “Elizabeth was telling me that you tried to bring some doves from your uncle’s house in town too. But that they flew away.” A few weeks before Menace had approached her asking for some nails to build his own small dove house. She obliged, after all he helped me paint and thatch mine.  Then built the stand its sitting on now.
“No, a dog ate two and the other two flew into the bush,” he corrected her. 
“Did you pull out their feathers so they couldn’t fly away?”
“No,” he said it with a chuckle. “But I didn’t know.”
“You should have told me you were bringing them and I could have help you.  If you don’t pull their feathers, or put a net around their for the first 21 days when they’re in a new home they’ll just try and fly back from where ever they came from.” She pause picking at a particularly difficult piece of rope. “Next time.  I’ll let you borrow my net if you want too.”
The more rope they stripped from the net the more violently the butterflies in her stomach started to flutter.  This is really the moment of truth.  For so many weeks and months she envisioned what it would look like; to be in her garden weeding and look up and see her brightly painted house, covered in colorful dove, glistening in the sunlight.  Momentarily she forgot the dangers of looking up while standing underneath a bird perch.  The morning gloom had not burned off yet.  There would be no glistening till this afternoon.  So long as all my birds don’t immediately fly away.
The big grey cock cooed from the door of his box. His mate pushed past him to see better what all the commotion was about.  I wonder if that pair can even remember how to fly, Chelsi wondered.  They were some of the first additions to the house. And though she was quiet certain that their flight feather had fully regrown, she wondered about muscle atrophy. 
“Alright, do you want to hand me the big piece of bamboo?  And grab that one for yourself.  I’m going to stand on the chair, so if you get on the stool… Yeah just like that. I think it might work that we just push the net up over and off the house.”
I want them to fly! I want to see the wind in their wings! Menace and Chelsi worked together to clear the first half of the house from the net. Just not too far for too long.  All seven of her birds were huddled up on a perch in the far corner, fearing that this change in their daily routine might be the mark of their end. 
“Perfect!” And just as the net cleared the last half of the house one of her birds lunged forward and took off.  It flew straight back into the bush.  Chelsi’s stomach dropped a little bit.  When the whole net hit the ground the flighty birds mate took off after it.  She looked across the house at Menace.  “I would have felt a little better if they all had taken off…” They looked up at the five remaining doves, perched stone still.  Oh my gosh, maybe they have been lock in the house to long and I broke them! She let out some of her unforeseen anxieties on Menace.  “I hope the other ones come back.”
“They will, look!” The two birds, side by side, swooped down over the house then lifted back up to circle the compound before landing in the tall branches of the tree beside her house.  Chelsi smiled and tried to calm the butterflies still fluttering away in her stomach. 
The pair of doves stayed perched in the tree for quite a while, preening their feathers and stretching their wings.  As Chelsi and Menace cleaned up the bits of string the remaining doves started to loosen up a bit too.  When the cleaning was down they sat on log beside the garden and watched the birds in the house, until the sun came out and glistened on their feathers. 

Categories: Drama, Fantasy, Gardening, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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