Patrick the Pelican never bothered to chew. A huge mouthful of fish swallowed, gone, that was how he rolled, that was what he would do. Why would anyone bother with the activity of chewing when he could swallow many fish while even thinking? Sometimes he warned by his other, non-pelican friends that he must chew, otherwise he might choke instead! Patrick always laughed them off, after all he gotten by for thirteen long years of his life, without any cause or incidence, he ate each day with no strife.
But what would he do if a little wayward fish became stuck in the back of his throat? He would surely cough, cough, cough, until it became less of a blockage, and flew from his beak from the inside out! It would be no drama, he thought, if this were to occur, because he had a great gag reflex, he used to practice swallowing swords. Patrick was a skilled sword swallower, he was known for his amazing skill through the wharf and in the busy pub a little down south, where he used to showcase his talent on Friday nights after school, this was actually how he gained his fame and his wealth. So, there was nothing to be concerned about, nothing to worry, a little stray fish? Why, nothing to do with it, no need to fret, he didn’t need to think of the consequences carefully, for there would be none, and Patrick knew he could always eat, voraciously or even daintily. It wouldn’t even matter, there’d never be a choking.
One day, Patrick decided to go for a swim. He felt the ocean had a lot to offer him this afternoon, and he wanted to fill his beak to the brim. Normally he desired catching them while diving from the sky, but today he felt a little languid, a little lazy, and he thought he’d give a different method a try. Besides, he could swim and smile and view the unsuspecting fishies all the while, and pick them off, one by one, until his beak was filled with tasty delights, all of them would be his to swallow and have his stomach then positively churn. But one little fishy stood out to him, she was pink and yellow in colour, flaming with elaborate fins and eyes widened with stoic disaster.
“Please, dear Patrick, please stay away from me, I’m too beautiful to be eaten so freely!” Patrick narrowed his eyes and grinned a crafty smile. “No fish is too beautiful to stop it being tasty to me all the while.” And so into his mouth she popped, gone right there, as if she hadn’t existed at all, and with a strange sensation inside, his mouth began to suddenly seem to crawl. What was going on, he wondered, what was that slimy yet creeping sensation that he’d never experienced? Surely it wasn’t that irksome fish, taking her sweet revenge. Instead he tried to ignore the feeling, moved on to other horizons and fishies, and gathering them he continued to do so, well into the evening. Tonight would be a great haul, and he would swallow them all when he was pleased with how full his beak was feeling.
Still, he felt discomfort, now his skin beneath his feathers began to crawl. From inside his beak, a certain screaming:- “I told you not eat me at all!” Then he felt a type of repeated electric shocking from behind his tongue, near to his throat, he suddenly felt the irresistible need to swallow this sensation away, that doing so would solve it, by taking it down. And so he tried, awfully hard, it was with great strife that he attempted to do so, but nothing would rid him of this horrid form of fishy life. It was like she was going to punish him forever, for simply needing to swallow, to eat her. It was all a part of life, part of the food chain, why couldn’t she realise this, and just give up, and lie there, instead of fighting, not being tame? Fish were meant to be eaten, that was one of their many roles. It just so happened that this insolent fishie was not accepting, or being aware of the role that she was likely expected to play the most.
Patrick rolled around, trying to dislodge her from the back of his throat where she was somehow causing him the shocks. He then turned upside down then righted himself, and still, she persisted, remaining at large. Finally, he had had enough, he needed to be rid of her, if she would go down, then by goodness he would then spit her out, this was how he would get rid of her. Patrick forced out all the fishes that he had procured, that he had acquired, they all flew from him mouth like a tidal wave of living others, expulsion at its finest, how saddened was he, to have lost his large meal, and then out popped Yellow Fish with her dazzling areas of Pinkie!
“Thank you, dear Patrick, for doing what was right,” she snapped. “Although I knew if I didn’t tickle your throat so, I would have died this very night. All my extended brothers and sisters will all thank me on the morrow, but you, dear Pelican, of your selfishness, you deserve much sorrow.” And off she swam, swinging her hips so haughtily, head held high, her nose set in a manner so snooty. Never again would Patrick fish near these waters, instead he would visit the high tides elsewhere, and stay away from this sea’s sons and daughters. For fear of coming across a variety like her again, he wanted to simply live a quiet life where he wasn’t made to suffer to his need to eat again and again. It was better this way, that he found some place fresh and new. It was probably that, better still, that he decided to swear himself off eating fishies too.
It seemed wise to become a vegetarian, his mother was one, after all, he did enjoy looking at and taking little tiny bites of her prepared meals, during the years he had still lived at home. One day he would encounter the yellow and pink fish again, and approach her would he with a certain tenderness, and share his wild stories, of his greatest encounters, of fetching and making himself elaborate and downright delicious vegetarian dinners. Perhaps they would become friends, he could only hope for this, because she had taught him a very important lesson with her behaviour and the way she had spoken to him. Think of others, not just as beings, as edible things, but as individuals who have a mind of their own and so too feelings. He was a peculiar pelican for going against the carnivore grain, but boy, wasn’t he happier with his life now, just the same.
© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock. All rights reserved.
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