The Quail's Heart
In a land neither here nor there roamed a stressed—some might say aggrieved--quail. If she had had thumbs, she would have twiddled them until they became raw. Instead, she had wings and she dared not twiddle them because she feared her feathers would fall out. That would not do for such a vain little creature. Thus she continued agonizing over the plight of motherhood with all of her feathers intact.
If the quail could have hired a surrogate mother, she would've made the phone call right away. But such an option does not yet exist for quails. And even if it did, they would have to begin using phones and printing their own phone book first. Otherwise, how would anyone get in touch with a surrogate?
The quail hated motherhood for several reasons. She did not look forward to her plump figure becoming even plumper. She also decided that, with a lifespan of only four or five years, it did not seem just that she should have to spend at least half of it tending to hungry, shrieking “goblins.” The quail did not want to find seed for anyone but herself. She figured she exercised enough as it was.
After bitterly carrying 18 little eggs inside of herself for months, the quail laid them as quickly as could. With her lady parts still sore, she promptly left the eggs to attend a retreat. Being a quail, she had no nails and therefore did not consider getting a “mani” or “pedi”--, though, being as vain as she was, the quail would've if she could've. But sitting and complaining about motherhood to other animal mothers instead of to a nail technician seemed plain fine to her.
The retreat was called “Motherhood Circle.” It took place atop the highest mountain in the area. Feeling too tired and lazy to make the trek herself, the quail hopped onto the hind-leg of an unassuming doe who happened to be heading in the same direction. At just the right point, the doe bent down to much the sweet grass that only grew on that mountain. The quail tumbled off of the deer's leg, straightened out her feathers, and strutted over to the Motherhood Circle.
A chubby gopher guru overlooked a small gathering of retreat-goers from his fungus throne. His bright eyes and calmly still ears gave him the look of someone fully at peace. The quail appreciated the air of wisdom. It made her feel like she was getting her money's worth.
The gopher guru led all the new mothers—a horse, a fox, a raccoon, and, of course, the quail—through a few breathing exercises to start. They stood, closed their eyes, and risked appearing a tad ridiculous. The quail worried that a handsome male quail might see her. Consequently, she refused to shut her eyes or “roar like a lioness.”
After they had all practiced breathing, the animals plopped down on beds of moss. Except for the gopher guru, of course. He gracefully sat down in his fungus throne.
“Now,” said the gopher guru, “You should all feel more relaxed.”
The animals nodded.
“Let us introduce ourselves.” He paused and smiled brilliantly. “Please state your name, loudly and clearly, tell us how many children you have, and how long you've been a mother.”
The horse went first. “My name is Willow Blossom, I have one foal, and I've been a mother for eight months. My daughter's nearly a yearling already! I'm so proud of how smart and beautiful she's grown up to be.”
The other animals put their paws and wings together in applause.
Then the fox spoke. “My name is Lily Pad, I have two kits, and I've been a happy mother for five full months. I'm so sad that I've reached the half-way mark already.”
The crowd, barring the quail, issued a collective “Aw!” Again, the animals clapped.
The raccoon followed. “I'm River Reed and I've been a mother of three for almost a year, like Willow Blossom. I'm not ready to let them go! I love them so much.” The raccoon grabbed a leaf from the forest floor to dry her eyes.
After the animals clapped, they turned to the quail, who had not been quick to share.
“How long have you been a mother?” the gopher guru prompted.
The quail paused before shouting in a manic frenzy. “One day! Just one day! I laid the eggs this morning and then I ran away! I couldn't deal with motherhood!” She wept as melodramatically as she could manage.
The other animals stared at the quail, their jaws slung open.
“Alright,” the guru gopher said as he straightened his posture and stood up from his fungus throne, “You girls know what to do.”
The gopher whipped out a knife and lunged toward the quail. The other animals did not hesitate to take his lead. In an instant, the gopher had cut out the quail's heart, shaken it in the air, and then tore it into teeny chunks for the other animals to eat.
In a land neither here nor there, eighteen quail eggs hatched without a mother and a protein deficient doe gulped up a heartless quail body.