I strut onto 14th Avenue with my chin up so that my French beard pops out under my beak.  Since it is Monday morning, the streets are crowded with birds rushing to Raven’s Doughnuts to grab a quick coffee and fly to work.  I would fly, but I just gelled down my feathers, and the fall winds of Birdhattan are enough to mess it up. 

I am also a penguin, so flying was never an option.

Unfortunately for me, a small crow with spunky eyeliner and disheveled hair steps on them as she runs past, her dirty claws leaving mud behind.

“Watch where you walk you piece of shit!” I scream after her.  With my wings, I aggressively brush off what I can, run an arm through my hair, and continue my journey to Skylight Clarkson Square.

It is mid – September, meaning that the New York Fashion Week is at its peak.  Birds of all origins are welcome to attend this prestigious event, where the best of the year’s fashion is showcased to the public.  Being the sexy bird I am, Vogue magazine decided that I would walk the red carpet in an off-white Ralph Lauren suit, costing about 1.2 million seeds.  The pants are embellished with small pearls at the ankles, connected to the black leather dress shoes.  Men only dream to touch fabric like this, and I get the chance to wear it and be the center of attention.  Today is the big day where I will have ten seconds to prove to the modeling agencies that I am a pro.  Maybe I will make headlines.

I turn the corner and reach my destination.  “Seagull’s Boutique” is in the corner of 8th Avenue, right beside the shutdown butcher shop (cannibalism is considered a crime now).  It is behind the red carpet, so we can get dressed and attend right away.  My feathers are quivering due to the chill, but mainly in anticipation, as this is a big jump in my career as an aspiring model.  I pull the gold door handle excitedly and walk into the store.  My eyes are angered by what they see.

Amongst the rows and rows of suits stands Rafael Gonzalaz, the most mannerless and ugly toucan in all of Birdhattan.  He is under the spotlight, with several seagulls measuring his wingspan.  Others are pressing blue pigment onto his eyes, and trimming his claws.

My blood boils causing a line of sweat to form under my hairline, even though I was freezing a few moments ago.  I see my manager, Susan the Magpie, in the corner, watching the horrid scene take place.  Her eyes shift in my direction, and she waves me over.

“Hey, Ahmad! Are you ready to get into your clothes?” she asks enthusiastically, ruffling the feathers on my shoulders playfully.

“Yes, but what is Rafael doing here?”

“I forgot to tell you! The head office decided that we need a pop of color in our collection since it is pretty simplistic right now.  So, I thought why not have you and Rafael walk the red carpet together to balance our palette!  I mean look at him, isn’t that blue gorgeous on his face?  It really compliments his beak, doesn’t it?”

“It would look nice on my face too,” I say nervously.  My hopes fall from the sky into the depths hell (where Rafael will one day go).  That prehistoric monster is going to wreck all my chances of being signed to a company with his posterior all up in my face.  Rafael has his way of getting what he wants when he wants it, and he can’t stand me.  So, he will do anything to make sure that my career goes down the drain tonight.

Back in our college days, I remember watching him, receiving compliments from the professor about his impeccable color choice, and dashing looks.   We are exactly the same, black and white, but he is blessed with a neon orange beak, which always stole the show.  He told stories of the tropics, the time he gobbled down twenty-seven roaches in one bite, still managing to keep the legs.  Surprisingly, the girls found that cute.

As I think this, Rafael turns in my direction.  His eyes enlarge slightly, but he quickly plasters a sneer on his face and spreads his wings wide.  “Why hello there, immigrant!  How have you been my man?”  He walks over and leans in for a hug, but I recoil and stretch out my hand for a handshake.

“Hi, Rafael! I have been good,” I say tersely.  Did he really just call me an immigrant, when he is as Mexican as the taco I had this morning?

He puts a wing around me, “I heard that I will have the pleasure of walking the red carpet with you.  I talked to Susan already, and she said that I will be walking in front of you.  Isn’t that right, Susan?”  Confidence rings in every word he tweets out of his neon beak.

She avoids my eyes and says, “Ye-Yes, we discussed this  The head office decided that it is best if Rafael leads since the color of his beak will catch everyone’s attention.  So, it is not my decision. Now, Ahmad, go take a seat right there, and I will call David to help you into your suit.”  She rushes away, and my mouth refuses to close.  Rafael pats my shoulder, and goes back to the geese, laughing heartily the entire time.

Steam exits my ears the entire time I am getting ready.  I see my flab in the mirror, wishing desperately that some color will grow into them with the sheer force of my will.  With no luck by the time I am done, I sigh and take my position beside Rafael.  We are right in front of the door, and I see that a ribbon is trailing from the behind of his suit.  Someone probably forgot to pin it up.  It curled around his feet and was right in front of me.  The lights were dim, and if I placed my foot one step forward, onto the ribbon, no one would notice.  My eyes slowly widen, as I imagine the scene taking place.

Rafael Gonzalas, the star of the show, beak as beautiful as the sunrise, eyes a succulent brown, wings like a wooden arch, strong and muscular, all brought down with that one piece of velvet.  No, I can’t do that. 

So, I did worse, but only because I had to.

Right as we are about to walk on, Rafael shoves me hard, so that I stumble into the carpet.  I hear a few chuckles from the crowd, but the clicking cameras drown out everything, including my hummingbird heartbeat.  Rafael just messed with the wrong penguin.

So, as he walks out, all graceful behind me, I grab his afro and swing his head around and use it as leverage to push him onto the floor.  The cameras continue clicking, interested murmurs accompanying them.  Suddenly, I feel a blast at my jaw, and I see stars, along with Rafael flying in the air and feet outstretched in my direction.  We continue like this for some time until the security eagles tear us apart.

They hold us by our wings, and I glare at Rafael with all my might.  However, his eyes are wide, staring in the direction of the flashes.  When I look, I see journalists scribble on their notebooks aggressively, representatives from the agencies smirk and turn away, and the designers look at us with boiling faces.  

I am for sure going to be making headlines now, though not the way I had imagined.

Too bad Rafael’s beak will take up the frame.

Thesis Statement: When an individual is met with adversity, they will develop feelings of jealousy, and negative intentions in their mind.  However, by doing so, they are undermining their honesty and integrity, making them a loser in the grand scheme of things.

Struggling to find some inspiration, I searched up, “short story ideas” on Google and found this legendary line:

“Tell the tall tale of a high-fashion penguin who goes shopping for a tuxedo and gets into the modeling industry.”

I took this idea and made it my own.



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