Time for another Flash Fiction!
Today’s submission was inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Paint Color Title Scheme. Of the ten possible colors listed, I chose “Flamingo Dream”! I’m… not entirely sure what this is, but it was interesting to write after an emotionally draining day. I am 99% sure I will be going back to this one and revising, as I think there’s a lot of good stuff here I might re-purpose after a night of good sleep.
In the meantime, please enjoy this rough, 20 minute (to write), 666 word story!
Flamingos dream in black and white. That was what the researchers said anyway, Ryan thought as he watched one of them nap in the sun. But he couldn’t help but wonder how the researchers knew that was true. Had they asked them? Had they psychically wound their way into the flamingos’ dreams? Had they experienced the richness of the world through a bird’s eye?
He doubted it. Humans would probably never know, regardless of how many animals they studied in zoos.
Ryan enjoyed watching the zoo animals. They always seemed so calm and content – all that they had to be was themselves, with no worries or fears. Everything was provided for them: food, water, safety, interaction, family, friends… It was probably a boring existence, but few of them seemed to mind.
He stuffed his hands into his pockets and sighed as he watched the graceful pink necks curve down and back up as the animals ate. Sometimes he wished that his life could be that simple and easy. But he couldn’t be what he wanted to be, or even what he was. There was always something that someone else wanted of him: to be smarter, to work harder, to have more, to want more, to be… more.
Ryan wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to withstand it.
One of the flamingos ambled closer, drawn by the shrieking glee of a small girl in purple standing near him. She was holding a mittened hand out towards the birds and yelling “pink, pink!”
The flamingo sniffed curiously at her hand. Finding nothing exciting there, it pulled its head back and vocalized at her, which sent her into another shriek of excited glee. Ryan smiled at her carefree enjoyment of the sunny day that he couldn’t seem to appreciate himself. Animals and children: both were equally free to just be themselves.
And here he was, only in the later half of his twenties, wondering what the point of it all was. Wondering who he was trying to impress with his long hours at work and his fancy new car. Wondering when, exactly, he had stopped enjoying the simpler things in life like sunshine or the laugher of a child.
Ryan eyed one of the flamingos suspiciously as it shook water casually off its wings. It sometimes seemed like he was far more caged than these birds.
The elder flamingo woke from her doze to find the tall human was still there. That one came by a lot, she knew, and stayed longer than any others. He was nice enough, as humans went: he didn’t throw things at them or honk back or make fun of their long legs and he always watched them so intently that it almost felt like admiration. He could come and go as he pleased, but he always seemed to visit them late in the afternoon, just before bedtime. With the young ones around and the constant visits from strange humans, it was pleasant to have some rhythm to the day.
One of the babies raced awkwardly towards her, nearly stumbling over his growing legs. A commotion at the other end of the pond needed her attention. She sighed and began her stately walk towards the fighting teens, proud even in the face of such a commonplace squabble.
Fights were for the young: the ones that still had down and spirit. The ones who still naively believed that there was a place better than the pond they inhabited and the nice humans in the beige clothes that brought them food and let them inside for the winter. They were still young and foolish, she knew, and would change their mind as soon as the cold struck.
When she looked back, the tall human was gone. No matter: she knew that he would come back, as he always did.
If Ryan had been able to ask what she had dreamt during her nap, she could have told him that she dreamt of nothing.