by Paul D.
Dressed in a puffa jacket that had seen better days the explorer watched the wildlife at the edge of the ice sheet.
A waddling mass of penguins formed a colony near the rock face, with birds squawking, flapping or swarming together in organised chaos of feathers and maturing chicks. Between the nesting area and the sea they trailed to and fro, some beaks fetching small fish or squid to feed chicks, some were taking small rocks or pebble as courtship gifts.
A little penguin waddling across the ice within the apparent chaos of the colony caught his eye.
This one had something special about it; its path or its gait, or the way that it seemed to pass on a slight diagonal to the directions that the main body of birds moved in. Then he saw that it was meandering, following its own path, hopping up onto a small outcrop, or weaving in and out of a set of snow dunes and ice that were largely ignored by other webbed feet.
Standing aloof from most of the others, it seemed to catch his eye, the look of two common strangers in a strange land. The explorer smiled with pleasure at its own joy even before he realised that the bird was cutting a new path across that would intersect with him and his dwelling.
Standing still and hoping not to spook it, he watched his new friend cock its head as it stopped a few feet away. Hopping closer to his snow shelter, it dropped something from its beak before waddling off back on its own way. He picked up the stone, a quartz that glinted pinkly in the midnight sun. Pressing it into the ice behind him, he felt it set off and finished the words that were pressed into his sparkly igloo.
© Paul D.