52. The Albatross
© Bruce Goodman 1 December 2013
Eleven-year-old Seth wandered the beach alone. A silent stretch of sand; a shell; a twitching sponge; an abstract log with sand-worn spars projecting into the rising breeze. This was the beach Seth loved. He belonged to the beach; he felt at peace there. And the desolate beach belonged to the huge breakers that roared in from the Tasman Sea.
Suddenly Seth saw something lying half covered in the sand. It was a dead albatross. The gigantic bird’s wingspan was wider than Seth was tall. It had finished its life of epic flight, and died alone on Seth’s solitary shore.
He left it there. Let it lie in the wind and sand and sea-salt spray.
The next day at school, oh! look what Andrea has brought! A dead albatross! Oh clever Andrea!
“I found it on the beach,” exclaimed Andrea. “Its wingspan is eight foot seven. It’s mine! mine! mine! Everyone can have a feather from its wings if they want.”
All wanted one – except for Seth.
“I saw it on the beach yesterday as well,” he said. “I left it there.”
“Liar!” said the teacher. “You would’ve brought it to school if you’d found it first.”
“Liar!” echoed the class. And they plucked the albatross of its wing feathers.
“I wouldn’t give you a feather even if you paid for it,” snorted Andrea to Seth. “You wouldn’t appreciate it.”