The penguin sitting on the egg is a lesson in trust, love, or compulsion. Instinct.
He sits on the egg, wind whipping and pulling at his feathers, snow in his eyes. His body is encased in a freezing crust. All of the hours are dark. He sits and shivers on top of the egg and waits for his wife to come home. Everything is dire. If he moves, if the egg slips out from under him for even a moment, the penguin-to-be freezes and the shell becomes a grave.
He sits and shivers and waits for his wife to come home. Around him, the first hatchlings crack out from the casings, grey bodies and little beaks reaching up into the frigid air, the returning light. If the baby dies in its egg, he doesn’t know. He sits on his egg while his neighbours’ eggs become birds. He waits and his wife doesn’t come home. He waits and his baby does not shatter its shell. Everywhere around him families are beginning. He looks into the sky and sits on his egg because there is nothing else he can do. He does not drop onto his side and wait for the frigid temperature to kill him.
The penguin sitting on the egg is a lesson in trust, love, or compulsion. Hope.
Rebecca Higgins’s short fiction has appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Toronto Star, The Saint John Telegraph-Journal and The /t?mz/ Review. Her short story collection The Colours of Birds was published by Tightrope Books in 2018.