Some kinds of missing can creep up on us gradually. Life goes along from one day to the next with everything the same. Then an event or a memory triggers a reminder that something or someone is missing.
This was not like that. We missed Amelia immediately.
Amelia had always been the one to stand guard while everyone was scratching and pecking in the yard. As the leader of the flock, Gracie would sometimes join her, but she appreciated Amelia’s willingness to give the gift of her time. Amelia would stand silently and only make an alarm call when she sensed something might be dangerous and hiding in the shadows.
Here on the wild river, there was nothing but shadows. It was so late, and she was so tired. The moon was so full and bright. As it had risen in the sky, she thought that she was getting closer. It had to be closer. It just had to be.
She had flown almost the entire day from tree to tree. This was not flying the way she had remembered it. With an entire flock, flying is different. By herself, she was more aware of her limitations.
She realized she was not like the Canadian geese who had moved into our neighborhood and had flown so high and for such great distances. Even though she had always been the best flyer, she realized that even at her best, she could only fly like a chicken.
Amelia was glad Emily was not there. Emily had always looked up to her. Emily would not look up to her if she saw her there alone in the middle of the wild river searching for a safe place to roost for the night.
There was no way of knowing what was in the hollow of the tree. That would not be safe. The limbs above would be safer perhaps, but if she closed her eyes, what might grab her while she slept?
For a moment, she longed for the warmth and safety of home. Then she remembered why she was doing this. It was not for herself. It was not to prove that she could fly to the moon and back. It was for Emily.
Emily had leaned on Amelia for too long. Emily had a gift within herself that would never be fulfilled until she learned to stand on her own. Amelia did not know what that gift was. She only knew she had to let Emily find it on her own.
Amelia was not lost. She had made her map of the world, and she could find her way back home any time she wanted. She was not afraid, not yet. But she was alone out there on the wild river.
I still need to find out if I can be lost and not afraid, she told herself. I need to know that as surely as Emily needs to discover her gift.