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Fiction. © Copyright 1999, Jim Loy
The two birds were wading in a pond. They were Sacred Ibises, a kind of large bird that once lived in Egypt. They were large, and white, with black heads and some black wing feathers. They had long legs and bills that curved downward. They were visiting Egypt. The grandfather was a skinny bird who had a few feathers sticking out at odd angles. He was teaching the young female bird, who was graceful and pretty, about the ancient history of Egypt.
The old bird saw something moving at the bottom of the pond. He pushed his head under water, and grabbed whatever it was in his beak. He pulled his head out of the water. Squirming at the end of his beak was a juicy shrimp. The old bird jerked his head, and the shrimp disappeared down his throat.
He cleared his throat, and said, "As I was saying, thousands of years ago, when there were kings, the people used to dry out the bodies of people who had died."
She asked, "Why did they do that?"
"It preserved the bodies, so that they might last forever."
"Oh, they thought that when a person died, he or she needed the body so they could live in the afterlife."
"And these bodies are still here in Egypt?"
"There are some around. There are probably some still buried in hidden tombs."
"Are some of them kings?"
"Oh yes. There are some in that big building in the city, the building which is called a museum."
"I would like to see a king."
"Hm. That may be difficult. We can try."
They flew into the city. And they landed in front of the museum. They saw people walking into and out of the building. The grandfather said, "Hm. That guard may not let us into the museum." The two birds walked around the outside of the building. They saw no other way in. They returned to the front of the building.
The female bird said, "We could try to walk in, and see what happens."
"That guard may have a gun."
"If we stay near the other people, he won't shoot us. He might accidentally hit someone else."
Just then a little girl said, "Oh mommy! Look at the pretty birds. Take my picture with them."
The mother said, "Well, OK. I suppose they won't bite."
The little girl asked the birds, "You won't bite, will you." She stood between the two birds, who were a lot taller than she was.
The mother pointed her camera at them, and said, "Say cheese."
The little girl and the two birds said, "Cheese."
The little girl said, "Thank you," to the two birds. And she climbed up the steps to the museum, following her mother. The two birds followed the little girl. And they walked right in the door. It was cooler inside.
The little girl and her mother went one way. And the two birds went another way. It was a huge place.
The grandfather bird said, "I wonder how to find a king in here." They wandered around looking at statues and jewelry and pictures. They tried to read the ancient hieroglyphic writing.
Then they noticed that they were being followed by two guards. The birds walked faster, and the guards followed them faster.
Then they saw the little girl and her mother. They rushed over and stood by the little girl.
One of the guards said to the mother, as if he were telling a joke, "Pardon me ma'am. Are these your birds?"
The mother looked at the birds, in surprise. She thought about this situation for a long time. Then she said, "Yes, of course they are. Are they causing any trouble?"
The guard said, "No, no trouble at all. Sorry to bother you." The guards walked away, looking back at the birds.
The two birds decided not to stick their tongues out at the guards.
The girl's mother said, "Well, come along. The sign says that Ramses the Great is up here."
The four of them stood in front of Ramses the Great.
The little girl said, "He's all wrinkled up, like a prune."
Her mother said, "Well, he's over 3000 years old. You won't look that good in 3000 years." She read to them about Ramses II, son of Sety I. He was king for 64 years. He won a great battle all by himself. He had more statues and temples than anyone else, all over Egypt.
People often said how they loved the museum. But, that day, many people said that the best part was the two large birds that they saw at the museum. The guards were hoping that the birds would come back again some day.
Author's note: This story is still under construction. It requires an introductory paragraph, telling what a sacred ibis is, and what these two ibises are doing in Egypt, so that it will not depend upon the previous story, The Sacred Ibis.
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