The Grounded Gosling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: The Imaginarium
The challenge was to write your own fairy-tale; incorporating all the traditional elements. 1000 word limit.

This story is also contained in the Imaginarium House Autumn/Halloween Collection 2019.

Cover image: pixabay.com.

Submitted: September 16, 2019

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Submitted: September 16, 2019

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The Grounded Gosling

Once upon a time, in a land not far away and a time not far from present, there lived a gosling that was afraid to fly. As the geese began to prepare to migrate to warmer climes, the gosling’s parents became increasingly worried.

Look at all the others,” the gosling’s father said. “They have been practising for weeks while you have not even left the ground.”

His mother was sympathetic but, as the leaves began to fall from the trees, she, too, began to grow impatient. “Stretch out your wings, little one. Can you not feel how strong they are?”

The gosling spread its wings. They were big, the same size as those of his peers, but they did not feel strong to him. Maybe they did not have enough feathers? Or perhaps the feathers would fall out while he was in the air, making him plunge to the ground like a felled branch. He had seen many of them after storms and could not put the image of the broken and snapped pieces of wood from his mind.

I can’t, Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t think I was meant to fly.”

Overhearing, his father turned on his young son, his eyes full of scorn. “All geese are made to fly! You included. You are just too... too... chicken!”

The gosling hung his head in shame. It was bad enough to be compared to one of those birds that, unable to fly, had to winter in houses; those that were to survive, that was. But for his father to do it so loudly in front of all the other geese and goslings was so humiliating.

That night, when the other geese were sleeping, the little gosling went out on his own. He stretched his wings, flapped them up and down; but even when he hopped from foot to foot, he still did not rise from the ground.

The following day, the older geese huddled together. The weather was about to turn; they could sense it. The time to fly had arrived and they would do so with or without the young gosling.

But we can’t just leave him,” the gosling’s mother said.

We have no choice, not if we are to survive. You have to remember your other children.” As heartless as he sounded, the gosling’s father did not want to abandon his son either. “We’ll take him to the ducks. They’ll look after him.”

The gosling watched as the geese took to the air, each taking their position in their flight formation. There was a gap where he should have been. He kept his eyes trained towards the sky until there was no goose left to see.

The ducks were kind enough, but the ducklings teased him mercilessly. Slipping away, he wandered in to a garden where he sobbed.

What’s the matter?” The voice was quiet; soft, and kind.

The gosling lifted his teary face and saw a butterfly fluttering beside him. He tried to talk but his voice choked in his throat, and he turned his head away.

Have they left you? Is that what’s the matter?” The butterfly sounded concerned, for the young goose was in such obvious distress. “Why don’t you fly after them? You could still catch them up, you know.”

I... I... can’t... fly!” the gosling stuttered. “I’m... too... sc... scared.”

Oh, dear,” the butterfly said. “There’s nothing to it, you know. Look at me.”

I tried all last night,” explained the gosling, “and I didn’t leave the ground at all!”

I’ve got an idea,” the butterfly fluttered around in excited circles. “Don’t go away, little one.”

When the butterfly returned she was not alone. There had to be hundreds of them, the gosling thought. They carried with them some kind of material. What were they going to do?

Now listen, little one, we are going to get you up into the air, then you can rejoin your family. What you have to do is stand in the middle of this piece of cloth and when I say, ‘Fly,’ stretch out your wings and flap as hard as you can. Even if you think you are falling, keep on flapping. Is that clear?”

The gosling nodded. His little legs knocked together as he stood on the square of material. The butterflies surrounded it and as their wings began to flutter in time, the material began to lift.

Higher and higher went the butterflies, carrying the gosling with them. “Get ready now!” shouted the butterfly.

The gosling shut his eyes.

Now, fly!”

The butterflies let go of the material, too exhausted to hang on to it a moment longer. The gosling’s wings were open wide and they flapped up and down, up and down. Still he began to drop towards the ground.

Almost frantic with fear, the gosling flapped harder and harder, his eyes closed. He did not want to see the ground as it rose up to meet him. It was taking its time, though.

Then, from behind him, the gosling heard a cheer. “Open your eyes, little one,” the butterfly flew along beside him. “You did it! You are flying!”

I did?” he asked, then opened his eyes to find the tops of the trees were below him. “I did! Thank you! Thank you, all!” The gosling’s eyes filled with tears of joy. “Come with me. We go to somewhere warmer. It would be better for you there.”

We can’t, little one. We are not made to fly for long distances.”

The gosling thought, and then he honked and he honked. It did not take long for the geese to come in to view.

Is that you, son?” asked his father.

It is! The butterflies helped me. Can we take them with us?”

I don’t see why not. Hop on, butterflies. We’ll take you for a ride and you can winter with us.”

Should you see a gaggle of geese flying above you that are carrying butterflies, now you know why.

 

(998 words).


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