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The Other Side
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"I am just a pigeon, Bill, that's all I'll ever be."
Charlie's wings hung at his sides, his eyes scanning the many people who had lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for the next bus.
"It's not so bad to be a pigeon, Charlie," Bill said.
"But who can love a bird that can barely fly? How can we even call ourselves as birds? We're frauds!"
"Charlie, please, don't be so melodramatic."
"Haven't you ever thought about it, Bill, have you thought about what we're missing out on?"
Charlie's eyes darted from person to person.
"We'll never be able to see the world from where they are!"
Charlie pointed with his wing, "We can fly, Charlie."
"Not nearly long enough!"
Charlie watched as a man and woman shared a kiss.
"And that, what about that? Will we ever be loved?"
"There are woman pigeons, you know. And you were married once, remember?"
"Oh, that doesn't count!" Charlie said, waving away Bill with his wing.
"I mean real, true love. We're only pigeons Bill, imagine how limited we are."
"Look, Charlie, I'm going to get a coffee, you want some?"
"I can't, Bill, you know how the caffeine affects me."
Bill struggled to thrust himself into the air, the flapping of his wings uneven and out of rhythm. He flew over to a man who was waiting to cross the street and plucked the cup of coffee he held right out of his hands with his two little feet.
"Hey!" the man said, trying to swat Bill as he bee-lined back to where Charlie was.
Despite Bill's clumsy aviation skills, he landed back onto the sidewalk with a fresh brewed coffee without a scratch.
"That was wretched of you, Bill," Charlie said, though he couldn't quite pull himself away from the smell of the roasted beans, as if he was being hypnotized.
Bill took a drink from the cup.
"Oh, this is good, Charlie. Oh, this is delicious!"
Bill drank more, like a hungry cat lapping up cold milk.
"Well, I bet that man is very angry, another bad name for us pigeons. Now we're thieves!"
"Hush, Charlie," Bill said. "When was the last time you had coffee like this?"
"I don't know," Charlie said. "I haven't tried it yet."
"Well, whether or not you drink it, you'll still be a pigeon."
Charlie thought about this for a moment.
"Bill, what if the coffee is magical, what if it turns me...human?"
"Charlie, how do I look right now?"
"You don't look too bad Bill, your beak, it looks polished."
"So do I look any-more human to you?"
Charlie's eyes drooped. "Oh."
"Like I said Charlie, no matter what you do, you're still going to be a pigeon.
So take a sip, please!"
Bill whacked Charlie with his wing and propelled him forward.
As Charlie fluttered up towards the coffee, he wished that there might be something special about him, that this might be the moment his life would forever change!
Charlie felt the steamy liquid on his tongue and felt his insides warm and his heart do a leap. Was it happening?
"Hey Bill!" Charlie said. "Did it happen?"
"Still a pigeon, Charlie."
Charlie sighed and looked back into the coffee cup.
No matter what you do, you'll always be a pigeon.
At least he could taste the smooth richness of the coffee, at least he could be warmed on a cold day like this.
"The coffee is delicious, Bill."
"Maybe it's not so bad being a pigeon."
"It is not indeed," Bill said, perching himself upon the rim of the cup and bending over for another drink.
"But I feel badly," Charlie said. "That man must go without his delicious coffee for the day."
"Think of it this way, Charlie, he gave to charity. "
"We are not charity!"
"If you start seeing yourself that way though, you will receive all kinds of wonderful things.
You will see, Charlie, it is not so bad, not so bad at all to be a pigeon."
Bill then waddled up to a woman who was waiting for the next bus.
He began to make purring sounds, as though he were a cat, and began to rub his head against the woman's ankle.
The woman looked down and at first flinched, but smiled when Bill looked up at her.
She bent down and began to pet him, his thin, short feathers.
Charlie's eyes widened and he squinted to make sure he was seeing what he was seeing.
He waddled over too, pecking at Bill then purring so that the woman could hear him.
She looked at him and smiled and began to pet him too.
He looked at Bill, whose eyes were closed, and was relishing this attention that he was being given.
Maybe it wasn't so bad, Charlie thought, not so bad at all.
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