By Roy Charles Henry
It was an eerie morning, cool and misty. The sun was transforming darkness into light. A soft warm breeze began to sweep the mist away forming swirling ephemeral clouds allowing patterns of sunshine to dapple the forest floor. Merton the Mole was burrowing along lickety-split, pushing up leaves and grass and feeling his way around roots and rocks. He was invisible except for the wormlike mounds that formed a permanent wake. He was driven by an everpresent anxiety. He believed that he never had enough food piled up for the coming winter, which he always imagined would be longer and colder than the last.
His eyes were closed and blind from lack of use. He could not feel the warmth of the sun in his subterranean tunnel and was unaware that the morning light had signaled the Great Horned Owl to give up the search for a midnight mole snack. Merton, however, could not escape the chilling fear caused by a loud voice in his little mole-mind, “Danger Danger!”
On this morning, like all other mornings in Merton’s world, it was cold, wet and musty smelling. He was busily in search of a breakfast worm, and he was trying to remember something. He was continually plagued with a disturbing thought that if he could just relax for a moment from the pressure of mole-life, he could remember what it was that he had forgotten.
Sensing a long fat tree root, Merton had a strange feeling for the first time in his mole-memory that he should dig up and over instead of down and under. As he dug upward he felt the cool morning dew and something warm on his back.
Merton forgot his search for breakfast. He just wanted to lie there feeling the warmth of the sun. He rolled over; it was even more wonderful to feel the sun on his fat round tummy. For the first time in his life he squealed with glee and realized that something was beginning to emerge from his mole-memory. His eyes, long blinded by the underground darkness of his chosen home, began to detect light. He peered around at the fuzzy images of towering trees and the soft pastel colors of the distant rolling hills.
Slowly unfolding from his body, Merton could see, were two great wings. He watched in delight as they stretched out, broad and powerful. He could see clearly now. He slowly lifted both wings and laughed as the warm summer air lifted him off the ground, up above the trees, and up and up and up. Soon he was floating high above the sparkling landscape. And then he remembered.
It seemed so easy now. How could he ever have forgotten? He was never a mole in the first place. He had always been an eagle. With one joy-filled thrust of his great wings, Merton glided off toward the distant shimmering snow-covered peaks, his eagle screams re-echoing “I’m going home! I’m free at last!”
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