Once upon a time, there was a big tree in the middle of a vast field and under the tree was the land of the Running Chickens and Roosters. As you can tell by the name, the Running Chickens and Roosters were birds who were very comfortable on their feet and could run around and walk as much as they liked, but they could not fly. In fact, they were so good at running that they didn’t need their feathers anymore and they used to complain about how it got in their way of moving around swiftly on the ground, until at some point, they started to lose their feathers and became Naked Running Chickens and Roosters. While these birds could not fly, they still were good jumpers and once in a while the young ones would play jumping games and bet on who would jump higher.
The tree in the middle of the field was so high that no one had seen its top and it soared up, as if going up until it touched the sky. The field was also very vast and it seemed it went on forever. No one had seen the end of the field, but legend had it that long long ago, a group of Running Chickens and Roosters had decided to go to the East of the tree, walk until they reach the end of the field and then come back to tell everyone else what was there. They had left and after many many days of walking and running, they had suddenly seen a shadow of a large tree in the distant horizon. They had gotten excited and ran to it. It had looked more and more familiar until when they got to it, they had seen that it was their own tree that they had reached from the West side! From that point on, the birds decided not to explore too much.
Once one of the Naked Running Chickens gave birth to an Odd Bird. They called her that because unlike her peers, she was covered in soft feathers and had short awkward feet. She also had a big beak and couldn’t run or even walk well. After initially being interested in her, the young birds forgot about her and she was usually lonely playing by herself and staring up the tree, wondering what was up there. When the Odd Bird grew, unlike what everybody expected, she did not lose her feathers, and her legs did not grow longer. The only part that seemed to grow most were her useless hands that were bigger than all the other birds and were covered in feathers. The other birds used to tease her, go up behind her and pull out a feather, knowing she could not reach them when she ran on her clumsy legs. But after a while, they got tired of this game and ignored her completely.
One morning, when one of the chickens woke up, she saw that could not move! It was as if her feet were frozen to the ground. As time went by, more and more chickens and roosters started to have the Big Freeze, as it came to be called, where their feet felt frozen to the ground and they could not move anymore. Everybody became scared. “What was happening?”, they started asking, “What if this happens to everyone? This would be the end of the Naked Running Chickens and Roosters!”. The birds went to the Old One, who was the oldest living chicken and known to be wise and full of stories of the past. She said, “a long time ago, I heard from my great great grandparents, that there is a special fruit at the very top of the tree, that can cure this disease like a miracle!” She cleared her throat and continued, “but it would really be a miracle if anyone can find this fruit because no one has gone up the tree yet and my great great grandparents knew about it because one had dropped down. But that happens once in every hundred years or so!” The birds started to panic. There was a cure, but it was out of reach, so there was not a cure. They were doomed!
The next day, all the birds came to the bottom of the tree and the athletic ones started to jump higher and higher. Maybe someone could catch the first branch and, who know, go up from there? But soon they saw that compared to the height of the first branch, their jumps were completely useless.
At this time the Odd Bird was passing the crowd. She had heard of the Big Freeze but felt couldn’t do much about it and nobody cared about what she felt anyways. But she liked jumping and went to see what was happening. After doing useless jumps for a while and getting tired, the birds were angry and frustrated. Seeing the Odd Bird standing there, they started teasing her, not in the nicest way, about her useless feathers and whether they could borrow them and put them on the ground so that they at least don’t hurt their bums when they jump up and fall down. They started running after the Odd Bird trying to pluck her feathers and, of course, because of their long feet they usually could easily overtake her, except that now they were tired from all the jumping and she was motivated to save her feathers and running in front of them, she started jumping and flapping her hands and closing her eyes and suddenly she felt that the earth was not scratching her short awkward feet and the angry shouts of the mob behind him had subsided and there was a gentle breeze on her face and when she opened her eyes, she saw that she was … flying!
It was in her blood. Suddenly, everything made sense, she did not have to think or try or fail. She was high, higher and higher. She did not care if she disappeared and she did from the eyes of all the birds on the ground who were dumbfounded and could not take their eyes from the dark fading spot in the sky. The birds stood frozen to the ground for a long time. The Odd Bird had flown up towards the tree and so high nobody could see her anymore. Night fell and still the birds were waiting for her. The next morning came and went and there was still no sight of her. Maybe she had died, maybe she had fallen to the other side of the skies, maybe this was all a dream. The Odd Bird did not come back that day. Everybody thought she was dead. More birds succumbed to the Big Freeze.
The next morning, a young one looked up the sky and, suddenly started screaming: “She is coming back! She is coming back!” Everybody gathered and with outstretched necks they looked up the sky and saw a small dot growing and growing. When it came closer, indeed, it was the Odd Bird. They opened a circle for her and applauded her as she landed gracefully. They had a million questions: “How did she do it? What was up there? How did it feel to fly?” She did not reply. She looked tired. She opened her mouth and a strange fruit fell out. The birds stepped closer and picked it up. Suddenly, they knew: this was the magic fruit from the top of the tree! They started cheering. This was a miracle. The Odd Bird was a hero. They put her on their shoulders and walked to each of the sick birds. Upon eating a little of the fruit, the Big Freeze was gone. The danger was over, they were safe.
The birds celebrated for three days. They gave the Odd Bird many gifts and payed her the highest respect. She was happy but mostly silent. At the end of the three days, they told the Odd Bird that they wanted her to be their leader. The Odd Bird thought for a moment and then said, “Thanks very much for your offer! It’s very kind of you and I might accept. There’s just one thing that I have to do before I can become your leader.” The birds said, “What is it? If we can help, we would do anything we can.” She said, “Thanks! But it’s actually something that only I can do. I want to go up the tree again. There was another fruit there that I want to try and bring back for you.” The birds all got excited, “Another fruit, wow, what kind of miraculous properties would that one have?” The Odd Bird said, “I don’t know. I guess we have to try it to find out.” After saying this, she took a long look at the birds standing around her and started running down a path that they opened for her and started flapping her wings and going higher and higher until she disappeared in the sky.
To this day, the Naked Running Chickens and Roosters are still waiting for the Odd Bird to come back and bring them the second magic fruit. Many birds believe that she died trying to go up the tree for the second time. Some birds think that she found paradise up there and forgot about them. And sometimes, when a new baby is born, their mother touches their skin and secretly wishes that they grow soft feathers all over and one day fly up to the top of the tree.