Charlie waddles up and down the damp strand. The others all stand in a large group calling to each other. They don’t talk to Charlie. He isn’t allowed to talk to them. Charlie turns tail and heads back over the strand, he hasn’t had much luck today finding worms. He is getting hungry. He must find some worms before the others start moving. Also the new group on the other side of the strand will need worms as well. Charlie drills and drills, where are all the worms gone?
(He leaves his kin, strutting across the sand his black head dips and hefty chest puffs out. Strong, and certain. He’s coming! Tip taps my head and opens his beak. Flinching but there’s no pecking).
Je suis Charlie. (I can give no response, just a cocked head, blank).
I am Charlie. (English this time)
Oh right – I’m David. Where’re you from?
Long way away – are you here long?
The usual – winter. I haven’t seen you before.
I arrived last summer. (Look away, he probably doesn’t like being stared at. Find some worms).
The others don’t like me. (Whisper it, incase the others are listening).
I suppose I am not one of them – I don’t fit in. (No worms)
Well I’m not one of them either, but I’ve had no trouble. (Charlie drills the sand – a worm; glurp).
No, I suppose you wouldn’t.
What do you mean?
Well there are more of you, you travel as a group. It’s only me.
(Charlie looks over to his kin, shrugs, goes back to drilling. He was another worm, shaking his head, and raising his neck it slides down. He gazes at David again and waits).
I don’t really remember from before. I got separated – landed here. I stayed. I thought I could join in. They don’t think I belong.
Oh right. I’m tired I have to sleep now.
Charlie wanders off, finds a quite spot; curls up and goes to sleep. David watches and waits for the others to go over and start tapping him. Tip tapping, and pecking all the time. No sleep allowed.
They don’t go over to Charlie. They don’t tap him, not even once. Charlie sleeps.
David wonders. Could he finally stay here, could he sleep? If Charlie stays here, could Charlie be his saviour? David goes over his exchange with Charlie. Je suis Charlie he said. With practice David could sound like him. He would have a friend, an ally. Then the others would have to let him stay wouldn’t they? If Charlie says so.
Je suis David. (Needs more practice)