By Margo Wayman
The Nile river flowed silently past the pyramid, which stood majestically against the reddening sky of morning. The sun cast its rays down on the desert sands, awakening the peaceful land. The only sounds that could be heard were a few birds chirping, and a small herd of cows mooing off in the distance.
Tiy and Yuya, two glossy black ibis, woke up in their nest, which was just a few feet back from the riverbank. Each of them stretched their wings, then stood up and straightened their long, spindly legs. Without uttering a sound they made their way down through the tall reeds to the swift flowing water of the river. The sun rose higher in the sky and soon the heat became suffocating. The birds felt the warmth through their black feathers. Tiy and Yuya started pecking around the bottom of some long fuzzy reeds, and in the black gooey mud for wriggling bugs, and little fish that were splashing about in the shallow waters near the river's bank. When they spotted a fish they'd poke at it with their sharp curved beaks.
As Tiy and Yuya were busy eating, they spotted some children up the river, not very far away, swimming and splashing, and having lots of fun. A small boy was scooping up handfuls of mud and throwing it up into the air. It fell back down, landing with a SPLAT! in the river. His beautiful brown eyes and shiny brown hair were matted with drying mud. The little girl beside him wasn't quite as happy about the mud sticking to her dress. Tiy watched them with delight.
A dhow floated past, its sail fluttering in the whispering breeze. Tiy's eyes shifted to the man and woman on deck, watching them as they wrestled with the current of the river Nile.
As Yuya swallowed a large scarab beetle, he glanced up to see a barge float by; piles of pomegranates, oranges, and lemons lay stacked on the deck. He took a deep breath and could smell their citrussy fragrance. He bent down again to poke a fish, and was right in the middle of gulping it down when he noticed that the water was starting to get deeper, and running much faster. Tiy noticed it too. She looked up and saw some big black clouds. "It must be raining up river," she said to Yuya. "We'd better leave before the Nile floods," she urged.
They tried to go, but their feet were stuck, like big suction cups, in the mud. Tiy started to call for help. "Help! Help us! We're stuck!" she cried.
Yuya still had the fish in his beak. He called out, "Haaaalllllth!" It was too hard for him to say the word 'help' when he had a fish stuck in his mouth and throat. The two ibis tried to pull their long legs out, but they wouldn't budge.
Tiy looked up the river. The dhow had sailed off, the barge was gone, and the children playing in the river were nowhere to be seen. She looked around frantically. Out of the corner of her eye she saw something that frightened her. Coming towards them was a very hungry looking crocodile. It's tail was swishing back and forth as it moved closer. Tiy squawked, "Help! Help! Help!" Closer and closer it came. She could see it's sharp teeth. She hit Yuya with her wing.
He looked up and saw the crocodile too. "Haaaallllth!" he screamed again. They both began to tug, and tug, and tug, trying to get their feet unstuck. Just at the last minute, as the crocodile opened his mouth wide to swallow them, their feet gave way, and they flew back to their nest. Yuya, with the fish still in his beak, dropped into the nest. He let go of the fish, which arched and wiggled around.
The rain came, and was soon pouring down on Tiy and Yuya. They curled up and pulled their wings over their heads. It rained so hard that their nest filled up with water, and all the mud and reeds around them were soon covered with a few inches of floodwater from the river. The fish swam right over the edge of the nest, and back into the swirling waters of the Nile. All night long it rained.
The next morning, after the rain had stopped, and the river had receded, Tiy and Yuya knew that they were going to have to find somewhere else to get their bugs and fish from. It was just too dangerous for black ibis to feed near the river!
They flew out of their soggy nest and headed to dryer land....near an ancient obelisk, half-tipped over, and jutting out of the hot desert sand. After they'd rested there for a few minutes, Yuya noticed a small lizard dart by. He watched it scurrying about, trying to find shade. Tiy had spotted a small scorpion that was trying to find relief from the heat under a rock. They were both about to catch and eat their prey when a loud snort came from behind them. They turned around slowly to see a long, slimy tongue, and two googley eyes staring at them. Terrified, the ibis flew up into the sky and headed west.
The came began to laugh. He'd never seen such scared birds before. He sat down in the shade of the obelisk and watched the black ibis fly off until they were just two small black dots. The lizard lay in the shade, and the scorpion crept under the rock. None of them had a care in the world.
Tiy and Yuya looked desperately for a place to land, a place where they could build a new nest, and could catch fish and bugs without being eaten themselves. "Let's go there," said Tiy, pointing with her wing to a river down below them.
Yuya followed her down. They landed in the hot sand. Yuya looked around. "Hmmmm, this is the strangest river I've ever seen. There are no palm trees, no reeds, nothing. What is this place?" he asked.
Tiy thought the same. "Well, at least we don't have to worry about crocodiles sneaking up on us. Let's go and find something to eat," she said.
The two ibis walked around, prodding the side of the river with their curved beaks. They couldn't find any fish. "Aha," cried Yuya. "Bugs!"
Tiy looked over to where Yuya was. There was a whole pile of ants, a ton of centipedes, and as many spiders as any glossy black ibis could ever eat! "Payday!" she cried out with delight. The two birds gobbled down the insects until they were full, then lay down against a rock. A tall dark shadow soon engulfed them. Tiy cracked her eye open a little bit. "Yikes!" she squawked. She jumped up, pulling a half asleep Yuya with her. "Look! What is that?"
They stood back and watched the huge ship as it sailed slowly by. "How can such a big ship go in such a narrow river?" Tiy wondered. As she was looking at the ship, she saw a sign. It read, 'SUEZ CANAL. "Oh, so that's why there are no fish. It's not a river. It's a canal."
The two birds decided to stay at the canal. They built a nest out of bits and pieces of things that had fallen off of the passing ships. It was comfortable enough for them. The ibis never had to worry about floodwaters, or crocodiles again. Even though there were no fish, there were enough bugs to last them forever. What more cold a glossy black ibis ask for?