Marrow

Keezal grunted in frustration as he hurled the bone to the ground. The sun baked landscape reflected the heat back onto his glistening skin, further intensifying his irritation. He had been out here for an hour throwing the bone repeatedly but with little to no progress! He screeched and picked up the femur, smacking it repeatedly on a rock. The boy’s father, Teochuil, noticed his son’s rant and ran to his aid.

“It’s OK, son,” he said, grasping his boy in a supportive hug.

“Why can’t I get it to work??” Keezal cried,his leathery face turning red in effort.

“It takes time,” Teochil assured. “How many tries do you think it took me the first time?”

“Probably just once,” the boy grumbled.

“You’d be surprised,” his father chuckled. “Let’s try a smaller one and work our way up.”

Keezal nodded in agreement and followed his father as they hopped over to the man lying on the ground. His gut was flayed open, innards coated in dust and grime and the man reached feebly at his own stomach. Teochuil nipped his hand, and the man moved it back slowly. Keezal wrinkled his featherless face in disgust at the poor condition of the viscera, but they were not the sustenance they were seeking. With the efficiency of a seasoned veteran, Teochuil sliced open the man’s arm, ignoring his howl of pain. He deftly reached in, clasped a radius bone and snapped it off.

“Here, try this one,” he said, handing the bone to his son. The boy took the piece excitedly.

Keezal dashed into the air, grasping the bone in his talons. He swooped low, and remembered his lessons. Breathe, focus, aim… and release. The bone cracked a large rock nearby and shattered in two! Keezal whooped in delight and alighted near the wreckage. He scooped up the broken bone and offered it to his father.

“No, it’s all yours son. You earned it!” He said proudly. He wiped a tear of pride from his scaly face and flew up towards the nest where his wife, Xochil waited. She had been watching the lesson unfold, casually butchering a rabbit in the process. She offered a gizzard to her husband and he gulped it down gratefully. The pair sat back and watched their son burrow his beak inside the bone’s interior, eagerly sucking out the spongy goodness within.

“I can’t believe he’s grown up so fast,” Xochil said with a faint air of sadness.

Teochuil wrapped his wing around his wife and drew her close. “He’s a natural. He’s going to be a great scavenger.”

“Just like his father,” she said, leaning against his downy chest.

“We couldn’t do it without you,” he replied.

And the proud parents watched as their young son feasted. The nest would be empty sooner than later but they had no doubts how bright their boy’s future would be.

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