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The Littlest Women

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Lucie Pigeon and Daisy Starling were old, old friends. They had grown up in neighboring nests, sharing the same gaps in the mortar on the underside of a concrete bridge. The Bridge had been in a good neighborhood, Lucie often commented, and Daisy often agreed. Daisy would then would recall how the underpass had since been expanded to make room for a two lane highway, and they would both cluck, lamenting at the state of the city these days.

In their old age, Lucie and Daisy chose to spend most of their remaining time at the local park, watching their grandchildren flit and play about the carefully cropped green lawns. Sometimes one of their own children would stop by in the afternoons with a worm or two, and they would discuss the day's news. Lucie's second daughter was doing well out in the country, and Daisy's cousin wanted to know if she would enjoy flying in for a bite down at the pond sometime soon. It was a good, comfortable existence.

The two were particularly fond of passing the hours at the park feeding the flocks of elderly women who often gathered there. They were notoriously shy, and one couldn't normally get within three hops distance of them before they would scuttle away, wide-eyed and croaking hoarsely, behind a bush for cover. Once or twice a week Lucie would bring an extra bag of stale potato chips, and the two friends would take turns tossing crumbled wingfulls of not-so-freshly fried snacks onto the ground. The elderly women would leap about excitedly, and a large group would dive at the crumbs all at once.

Usually one of the larger, more boisterous women would run off with the majority of the prize in her mouth, and the rest would be left to scavenge up what they could find. Daisy and Lucie noticed this, and one afternoon they decided to put their heads together and figure out what could be done. They had observed a particularly bloated, battle-scarred elderly woman with several tattoos and a handbag the size of a large turkey waddling away greedily with nearly half a bag's worth of chips in her gaping maw the day before, and they waited to see if she would return again that afternoon.

"It just isn't right," Lucie cooed softly as an especially scrawny old woman hobbled past. "Those other poor ladies are going to starve to death!"
Daisy chirped in agreement, and her eyes shone with the finest speckling of tears as she took in the heart wrenching state around them. "It's so barbaric, isn't it? It's hard to imagine how nature can be so cruel."

"Well," Lucie waved a feather in the air pointedly, "Today we're going to make a difference! Natural selection my bottom!" Her friend chirped in agreement, and together they held their potato chip bags and waited.

Finally, nervous yet satisfied that the bull woman must have moved on to a different territory and they wouldn't have to carry out their plan after all, Lucie reached into her bag to toss out the first wingfull of chips in the direction of several half-starved elderly ladies. That's when the bull woman arrived. The clumps of straggling old women beat a hasty retreat and cleared a path for her as she lumbered forward. Her face was flushed red, and a faint bead of spittle was visible at the corner of her dead wormy lips. As she took in the scent of flash fried dinner, the bull woman's nostrils flared, and several clumps of crusted dirt fell away from her lower lip. With a deep and bellowing croak she stood in front of them at last, a mere wingspan and a half away from the bird's park bench. "…FOOOOOOODDD!" she belched.

Of course, proper birds don't speak human, especially not the particular brand native to the elderly women of their region. So the cry for sustenance came out more like an animalistic primal threat call of some sort in the minds of Daisy and Lucie, terrifying them both to a rather large degree. In fact, Daisy squawked in utter terror, blindly flinging her bag of chips in the hulking wrinkled woman's direction and fluttering backwards frantically.

"Oh Lucieeeee!" She chirped shrilly, "Do something! Do something before it touches me!"

Lucy was the more levelheaded of the pair, and she thought quickly, recalling their original plan with sudden clarity. She reached into her own potato chip bag, pulling out the poison laced popcorn ball the friends had devised the night before, and hurling it deftly, straight at the bull elderly woman's gaping jaws. For one fleeting second it was there, clenched tightly in-between her nicotine stained teeth, and then it was gone. The frightful thing had swallowed the entire snack treat whole in one monstrous gulp. They waited with baited beaks, afraid to breathe.

The concoction's effect was less than instantaneous, however. The bull woman waddled around aimlessly for at least another ten minutes before finally stopping short, flopping her arms back and forth momentarily, and collapsing in the yellowed grass beneath a tall oak. "Errrooghrrrrhh…." she groaned with a final loll of her grotesque, moldering head, and then was still. As she ceased to breathe, the thickness of the fright in the air around them seemed to slowly dissipate. The elderly women, once anxious and scattered, seemed to relax and draw nearer to the park bench and the oak tree. They did so either out of a learned expectation of food, or simple curiosity; it was difficult to be certain. Lucie and Daisy slowly unruffled their feathers and regathered their semi-casual seated positions. Slightly dazed, they watched as the flock of scrawny elderly women crowded around the now scattered potato chip remains. It was a peaceful and familiar scene, and Daisy let out a comforted sigh.

"Look," she tweeted, "our little friends are sharing now."

Lucie cooed. "We did the right thing then, didn't we?"

"I think we did."

Together Lucie and Daisy lay back, listening to the gentle whistles and croaks of the elderly women, accompanied by the low chorus of potato chips being crunched. The sky was deep turquoise draped over the city buildings below. They could see young birds and their families passing back and forth under the clouds, beyond the park's trees. They could smell the familiar odor of a smattering of smog in the air, mixed with the scents emitted from several worms and grubs embedded in the grass beneath their bench.

All this was slightly spoiled, however, when they heard an unusual squelching sound coming from the direction of the oak. Snapping to attention, Lucie and Daisy stared in horror at the scene before them, immediately releasing a shrill response that could only be described as an utterly egg curdling SQUAWK! For there, beneath the turquoise city skies and swaying tree branches, three elderly women sat on their haunches, huddled over the still tepid corpse of their fallen sister. A watery red stream of fresh blood dribbled down their chins and formed pools of warm crimson on the fronts of their dresses. Their hands and fingernails were coated in the deceased's blood as they clawed greedily into her savagely rendered torso and shoved bits of torn innards into their grizzled, lipstick coated muzzles.

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