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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Feather For Holly

"Daddy, will you help me make something special for Mum for Christmas? I donít know what to give her," Holly begged.

He looked at his beautiful little girl. Her golden curls were tied in pigtails with yellow ribbons at the ends. She was wearing a pale yellow dress and a white cardigan over it. "Sure, sunshine, Iíll help you make something. Why donít we do a collage?" he suggested.

"Whatís that?" she asked, curiously.

"We can get a piece of wood and glue all sorts of things to it, like pinecones, seeds, acorns, feathers, and leaves. You know how much your mum loves nature."

"Oh, Daddy, thatís a lovely idea," she smiled. A thought came to her mind, "But itís winter time now. Where will we find all these things?" Holly wondered.

"I have a box full of wonderful little things like that. Come to my room and Iíll take the box down from the shelf," he said.

Holly followed him into the room. The box was heavy and he had difficulty taking it down from the shelf. "Wow, Daddy, thatís a big box. Iím sure weíll find something in there," Holly giggled.

He emptied the box on the bed. "Letís see here, weíve got some acorns," he said, handing them to her. "Ah, there are some pinecones and seeds." He made a pile to the side.

"Whatís that?" Holly asked, pointing to a few long, brownish-red feathers. "Iíve never seen such big feathers!"

He picked them up and smiled. "I had forgotten about those. Would you like to hear a story about me, when I was a wee lad?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"One day I went outside to play. Oh it was bitter cold. My mum made me wear a heavy coat, gloves, a scarf and hat and of course, warm boots. There were woods behind our house and a big pond. There were always ducks and geese landing in it in the summer, splashing and quacking."

Holly giggled. "I like ducks, Daddy."

"In the winter, the pond would get ice. You know how cold northern Scotland gets in winter," he laughed.

"Brrrrrr," she said, rubbing her arms.

"I went into the woods and I saw something moving near the edge of the pond," he continued.

"What was it, Daddy? Was it a duck that forgot to fly south?" Holly asked.

"I walked closer and saw that it was a pheasant."

"A pheasant? Is that a bird?"

"Pheasants are beautiful birds with long tail feathers and their necks and heads shimmer and sparkle in the sunlight," he sighed, remembering.

"That sounds pretty. I wish I could see a pheasant."

"There was something wrong with the bird. I thought it had a broken wing. It should have flown away when I got near, but it didnít. It stayed still," he said.

"Did the pheasant have a broken wing? Thatís sad," she frowned.

"I saw that it was all caught up in some netting. Bits of string were wrapped around its legs and body and it couldnít move. It was very week and starving."

"What did you do?"

"I walked right up to it and picked it up. Luckily I was wearing gloves and a coat because it bit me. It was frightened and thought I was going to hurt it," he said.

"Poor bird," Holly pouted. "You were just trying to help it, werenít you, Daddy?"

"I carried it back to the house. Your grandpa came outside and helped me cut the netting off. Iíll never forget the look in that birdís eyes when it felt the string being taken off. As soon as it was untangled, I let it go. It flew into the air. I felt happy inside because Iíd saved its life and now it could fly and eat and live a normal life."

"Daddy, did you pull out its feathers?" Holly asked, picking up one of the feathers.

"During its struggle with the string, several of its feathers fell out. I saved them so I could have a memory."

Holly looked at her dad. His eyes were filled with tears. "That pheasant is lucky that you found it. Can I have one of them to keep? I wonít use it for Mumís collage, Iíll just keep it forever so I can remember too."

"Sure, sunshine, itís yours," he softly spoke.

They spent the afternoon gluing acorns to the wood. They went outside and gathered some oak leaves and a few bits of bark. That night, when he went in to kiss Holly goodnight, he saw the pheasant feather lying on her pillow, next to her face. Her tiny fingers were wrapped around it. He wiped the tear from his cheek and bent down and kissed her. On the table next to her bed was the collage they had worked on that day. He smiled and shut the door behind him. "Goodnight, Holly."

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