The Stray Princess
She walks without any kind of direction for a couple of days, sleeping under the trees, eating the occasional fruits that come down from some of them and drinking from puddles after rainy days. She saw the road a couple of times but the cars on it were moving so fast that scared her so she preferred to stay away from it.
In many occasions people inside those cars opened a window and threw away a bag with trash, sometimes inside these bags there were leftover food. The aroma of the eucalyptus was so relaxing, Charlotte really enjoyed its scent, it was a new experience but inside this vast forest at the end she felt alone.
In the darkness of the night some owls could be heard but she was never able to see them clearly, one day while gazing at the moon the shadow of one crossed the sky with an incredible speed.
“Are flying dogs still awake at this hour?” She wondered.
Days became weeks, and weeks became months. Her decision of being away of the road made her go deeper into the greenery of a new forest and she never found a human during this time, not even once. Her body changed and became thinner, her ribs could be seen again and the dirty bandana in her neck was barely still hanging. But she didn’t care, she was amazed that there were always new things to see no matter how much she walked, some days she walked from sunrise to sunset and others she just stayed on one place sleeping.
One time when she arrived to some plains, Charlotte decided to run as fast as she could on them, she couldn’t understand why but there was this urge to just feel the air moving from her head to her tail so she did it while opening her mouth, it was so fun. She laid on the grass and moved her body, human affection was one of the things she missed the most but sometimes rolling in grass was just as good. She decides to sleep in this place, the moon that night was a crescent one but the angle had somehow changed so its position made it look like a smile, Charlotte was looking at it without caring then just a faint memory came back.
“It looks like the little girl” She thought as the smile of her first owner appeared in her mind “Well, almost like her” She recalled that the girl was missing a teeth in the front row so the smile could not be complete “I wonder where she is” It’s been long since the last time she thought about that girl “It feels now like a dream” she is feeling uneasy, her memories of the old lady and the hairy man feel more real than the ones with the little girl.
She stayed some days playing in the plains, but eventually got bored and decided to keep moving. On one occasion she arrived to a swamp, crossing it was not an easy task as each time she moved her feet they were then sucked by the mud and she ended up buried inside it.
Pulling the leg out required a lot of effort but when doing so it came with a fun noise. The legs are wet and dirty but it’s a fun experience, she kept moving forward very slowly. There were dead trees with their naked branches moving over the area, Charlotte was playing making the weird noise so she didn’t notice when one of the branches got near and snuck in the space between her bandana and neck. She felt a pull and got scared, then tried to jump but the piece of fabric was already stuck. She moved pulling with all her might but the branch was strong and only bent a little, Charlotte moved her body and spun her head but still wasn’t free, then a new sound appeared:
The yarn couldn’t endure it much longer and was ripping at such speed that when it was divided Charlotte fell directly into the mud and the branch returned to its original position, during this process the bandana was sent flying across the swamp and landed in the middle of it, the yarn began to absorb the dirty water and its color transformed into a darker one.
“Phew! What was that!?” Wondered Charlotte taking her face out of the mud. She started looking around but there was no one there “How weird… oh well, I was doing something important” She returned playing with the mud noises and left the place. She didn’t notice that her bandana was missing, in fact she completely forgot that she had one in the first place.
One morning the sun was covered by many clouds but even so there was a strong light over the land. Charlotte opened her eyes and moved her legs, the dry mud in her fur is annoying and feels uncomfortable but so far there was no success trying to take it off, she used her mouth and tongue some days before but the taste that was left on her tongue was disgusting, she also tried scratching against the grass but not much of it came off. Finally, she decided to leave it that way even if it was bothersome.
In the last couple of months, she moved quite a distance, the weather got warmer, even nights weren’t as cold as the time she was called Xena. During hot days like this one, taking long naps under a shadow that came from a tree were one of Charlotte’s favorite activities. Today she founded a big tree with branches and leaves that extended in a particular way giving the tree a shape like half of a sphere or a huge green mushroom, it also had some lines coming out of it with red ovals attached.
On her travels Charlotte has learned that many trees with these weird shapes on them ended up being food, she thinks about the hairy man for a moment.
“He always knew what trees had the best food” She looks at the green leaves on the tree “huh?”
There is a small area that moves in a different way, like if the leaves there were alive and from them an eye peeps out and looks at her directly.
A sound like a song being followed with a whistle comes out from the area that Charlotte was looking.
“A weird flying dog!” She thinks amazed, it’s the first time she sees a parrot.
The bird has a green body, a white face and a black circular beak, it looks at her while grabbing firmly from a branch, then turns and continues eating one of the red ovals. When its beak pierces the fruit, a liquid comes out, and when a piece of the fruit is eaten, the golden color of its interior is shown. The parrot ignores Charlotte and keeps eating, small portions of the fruit fall to the ground and the dog approaches sniffing to the place, then she locates and eats them.
“So sweet!” She thinks after eating the small part she found “I remember this taste” She tries to remember where she ate it before and it took her only seconds to think back when she was at the big market, in the greengrocer area she tasted so many fruits and this one was one of the best “Yellow Food!” She remembers the fruit, the texture and the flavor, but obviously she never learned how a mango is called.
She moves some steps back and sits, waiting patiently for pieces to fall. It isn’t so different from when she observed humans eating, waiting for them to throw something at her. The parrot gets bored of eating one of the mangoes so it walks over it and reaches another one, its beak digs into it and starts to feast. Charlotte feels like she is being ignored and decides to get the bird’s attention.
“Give me some!” She yells, even if only barks come out of her mouth “Give me yellow fruit!”
The parrot continues eating but after a while it gets annoyed with all the noise.
The parrot imitates the sound, this action leaves Charlotte frozen.
“What?” She wonders “Flying dogs can bark?” She decides that this is a great discovery, never before a bird did another sound that weren’t a tweet or a weird scream like the vultures.
The parrot feels proud of leaving the dog in silence and returns to its meal. Charlotte feels excited about her finding and tries barking at the bird again. The parrot’s eyes reflect a disgust expression, its plan to shut up the dog didn’t work and now is all noisy again. The bird moves the feathers and its body starts to look like a balloon, then it has a mischievous idea, using the beak cuts and throws mango pieces to the floor so the dog gets near and distracts herself eating. Then continues cutting pieces around the base until the fruit can’t stay in place and falls, the parrot smiles filled with proud, the mango goes on a straight line aiming to Charlotte’s head but when it left the tree, the branch moved and the leaves on it generated a sound that the dog was able to detect, so she jumps backwards and the fruit crashes in front of her.
“Tsk!” The parrot makes a disapproval sound while returning to the second mango.
The fruit that fell is squashed on the floor; a sweet aroma comes from it. Charlotte approaches and starts sniffing it, it’s the scent that she remembers from the market. She moves her head up and looks at the parrot.
“Thanks!” She yells, then looks at the mango on the floor and starts eating it “So tasty!!” She chews happily, the wet texture of the fruit touches her teeth and her gum in the places where there’s a missing tooth. The liquid that comes from the fruit travels in her tongue, touches her palate and arrives to her throat leaving a sweet sensation behind.
“SKRAAA!” Is the only response that the parrot gives, it’s not glad that the plan failed but at least the dog stopped barking.
Without appropriate tools or the ability to use them, Charlotte has no way of leaving the mango peel aside and eats some of it. The taste is bitter but the sweetness of the yellow fruit is superior so she doesn’t stop eating, even so she has to pause a couple of times to push out of her mouth pieces of chewed peel.
The parrot looks at her and feels intrigued and with a sense of superiority, it flies to another of the hanging mangoes and uses its beak again to destroy part of it and let if fall to the ground. Charlotte ignores the second fruit at first, but as soon as she finished eating the other one, she decides to get closer an eat that one too.
The parrot comes down from the tree using its wings, once on the ground it doesn’t walk but moves by doing tiny skips and this way gets near to Charlotte from her left side. She notices the bird and stops eating to look at it, she feels really grateful about the food so her tail wags and she starts panting. With slow steps she approaches the parrot and gently tries to sniff it, the bird feels a little bit of fear when seeing the size of the dog so close so as a warning it opens its beak showing the gray tongue in the interior. Charlotte notices and stops; her nose is really close to the parrot and the bird is still with the beak fully open moving its head from side to side so she decides to retreat her muzzle slowly.
FLAP! FLAP! FLAP!
The parrot starts flying around her, then it barks, whistles and leaves to a nearby rock where the barking continues. Charlotte decides to follow the bird, maybe that way she will get more fruits.