I glide gracefully, looking down at the world below me. I swoop over the trees, adjusting my wing to catch the breeze. I feel the strong winds blow over me, calming my thoughts. I am a sparrow, I think to myself. I am me. As I think this, I get a bad feeling. I look up. Up, high in the sky, regarding me with beady eyes: a hawk. I don't take time to recognize what kind. Knowing I've noticed it, it dives at me, screaming. Knowing it will be easier to escape, I dive, too. Down, down towards the trees. Though I am already lower, the hawk is faster. It is a race for safety. We both fly to live. I fly to escape the hawk, a predator. It flies to catch prey, to eat. One of us must lose. The hawk is too close. It stretches its talons, ready to catch me and fly away before it crashes into the tall trees. I realize quickly that speed is not the answer to survival. I am a sparrow. I am agile. The question lies in the unknown, though. It may be intimidating, but is it any match for me? There is no time to think. It rakes its talons forward, hoping to win the contest of survival, but I am not ready to give myself up.
I flap my wings and flit to the right. It is not ready for that move. It puts on the brakes, which gives me time to escape and plan my next move because I know that it will not give up until it has caught me.
I may not be able to escape completely, but I can put death off until I have reached the bottom of the hill of life. I have already climbed to the peak, and I am climbing down, wishing there was not a bottom waiting for me.
The hawk flies a sharp turn around, and as it streaks at me, I feint to the right and dive down again. Swooping and diving, he chases me where I hoped he would: down into the trees, where there is an obstacle course of branches as an arena. As I pass under the treetops, I am surprised by the sudden dimness. I can't see him for a second, but then he is there right behind me. We dodge branch after branch, but I can't seem to get him off my tail. My wings are sore, and I am getting tired, and yet, I still fight for my life. Suddenly, I see him putting on an extra burst of speed, and I feel his sharp talons finally closing around me. I tuck my wings into my body, knowing he will carry me away. The claws cut into me, causing pain throughout my entire body. The talons pierce further into my body. The hawk flaps his wings, lifting us higher, up past the treetops into the bright light of the sun. I twist my head to look up at him. In the glare of the sun, I make out his eyes staring straight ahead of him. They seem to tell me, “That's just the way it is.” And I know that it is true. The race has ended. And I have lost. I close my eyes.
* * *
I carried the sparrow away from the forest. I could sense him looking up at me, and I looked straight ahead. I would not give any mercy. I did not look down as, slowly, his breathing stopped. I carried him towards my nest to feed him to my little eyases, my babies. I tried not to respect the brave little bird who was now lifelessly clutched in my talons. I did not like thinking those thoughts because hawks should be fearless. I had to kill him to keep my precious youngsters alive. I flew towards the sun with my strong wings pumping at a steady beat.