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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Time to Fly South

Every autumn the cliff birds flew south, heading for warmer weather. This year four puffins decided they didn't want to fly south with the others. They wanted to stay on the cliffs all winter long.

“There's plenty of fish in the sea here. Why do we want to fly for hundreds of miles, get tired, sore wings and maybe go hungry?” Gribb said.

“He's right,” Anga said. “I don't want to fly south either. Last year my wings were sore for a month. Let's just stay here.”

Orbu and Larf agreed. So the four puffins watched from the cliff tops as the last of the cliff birds flew away over the sea.

“Look at this,” Orbu said. “We've got the cliffs to ourselves. Nobody's around to push s, or grab our fish while we're not looking. I like this.”

Larf laughed. “Me too, Orbu. All the space to ourselves. What more could a puffin ask for.”

For the next few days the puffins gorged themselves on fish and lay about the cliffs. They enjoyed spreading their wings and legs out as far as they wanted. “This is the life,” Gribb said.

Anga was first to notice the cold wind blowing across the sea. “Brrr. It is rather chilly today.”

The wind grew colder and the puffins were forced to seek shelter behind a rock. “We're not going to be able to go fishing if this wind keeps up and I'm hungry,” said Gribb.

By late afternoon sleet fell, coating the cliffs in a sheet of shimmering ice.

“I think we might have made a mistake. We should have flown south with the others for the winter. I didn't know why we did that every year, but now I do. It's too cold here,” Anga said.

Orbu shivered. “I think Anga's right. I'm leaving. It might be a late start, but I might be able to catch up. Are any of you coming with me?”

“I am,” said Larf. “I'm not going to freeze to death.”

“I think I'll come too, even if my wings to ache,” Anga said.

Gribb frowned. “You go then. I'm staying. That means I'll get even more fish.”

Anga, Larf and Orbu flew off and soon were merely specks in the gray sky.

Gribb rubbed his wings together, shivering. He looked down at the sea. It was starting to freeze over. “Yikes! Wait for me, guys.” He flew off after his friends.

Two weeks later the four puffins landed. Their wings ached. All around the cliffs sat thousands of sea birds. “Look how crowded it is here,” Larf said.

They flew from cliff to cliff, searching for a spot to claim as their own. “I guess because we were late arriving, we're not going to find a place on the cliffs. Looks like it's the sea for us.”

All winter long they had to float on the sea, bobbing up and down with the waves. Though the weather was nicer and there were plenty of fish in the sea, they didn't get to spread their wings and feet anywhere. “Next autumn, I'm going with the others. I might go a little early,” said Gribb. The others nodded and closed their eyes, letting the gentle waves rock them to sleep.

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