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Why do the plovers fly away? - Chapter 17

Updated: Oct 2, 2021


Like the beating of waves.

Like a winter storm, like a summer breeze.

Like life.


Like the song of the sea.

Like the music of leaves in the wind.

Like life.


Like an ocean drift.

Like tides, like earth.

Like life.

Life by Xavi Gudrich


Mel and Anne stopped at a café with a pristine white awning to buy hot chocolate. Even

from the outside, Mel could tell the place was much posher than Schooner or Later. A glimmering crystal chandelier hung in the shop window, and a row of pastry stands offered red velvet fairy cakes frosted with tantalizing golden flowers. As soon as she stepped inside, the mingled scents of sugar, chocolate, and cinnamon rose to greet her. Her stomach rumbled and she turned to see if Anne had noticed, but Anne was already engrossed in the menu. Mel could hardly read the elaborate cursive lettering, but she managed to pick out a line that read ‘Hot chocolate, 5 pounds’.

Five pounds! For hot chocolate? If Anne hadn’t been with her, Mel would have left then

and there. But she didn’t want to look cheap in front of her new friend.

“You go ahead and order. I’m still deciding whether I want a fairy cake as well,” said


Reminding herself that she’d earn it back in less than an hour’s work at Schooner or

Later, Mel stepped up to the counter and ordered.

“Um, your card’s been declined, luv,” the waitress said, which was unnecessary given

the startling buzzing sound the card reader had just made.

“Try it again, please.”

How could she have less than five pounds in her bank account? She’d moved most of

her earnings into her savings account when the temptation of a new pair of binoculars nearly got to be too much for her last week, but she’d left fifty pounds. And then she’d spotted Mam fifteen for petrol. And then she’d torn her trousers beyond repair and had to buy new ones. And then...Oh.

The card declined again, and Mel snatched it back just as Anne came bustling up to the


“I’ve decided I’m not in a mood for chocolate after all,” said Mel.

“Don’t be mad, Mel. It’s on me. Another hot chocolate,” Anne said to the waitress. “And

two of those red velvet fairy cakes, too, please.”

“Eat in or take away?”

“We’ll eat in. No need for more plastic takeaway cups in the ocean, right Mel?”

A few minutes later, the girls were seated at a table by the window with two steaming

mugs of hot chocolate. Anne took a big bite of her fairy cake and then scooted the plate with the second pastry toward Mel.

“Oh, I shouldn’t,” she said.

Anne shook her head. “Not like I can eat two of them anyway.”

Mel reluctantly accepted the proffered fairy cake and took a nibble. It was indeed rich

and thick, with a hint of cinnamon baked in. The conversation turned back to whales, and as they talked, the hot chocolate and fairy cakes slowly vanished.

“I’ll cover you next time,” said Mel, gesturing to her empty plate. She didn’t know if she

could, though. She’d been taking fewer shifts at Schooner or Later to make room for studying and the internship.

Anne shrugged. “You don’t have to. It was a gift.”

“I know, but...I don’t like to owe anyone.”

“You don’t owe me.”

Now Anne looked uncomfortable.

“No, it’s just that...Well, you’re my friend, and I don’t want to be only getting gifts from

you, and never giving them,” said Mel.

Anne looked to the side. Clearly she didn’t know how to respond.

“Well–” she began.

“I’m sorry, Anne. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

Mel looked wildly about the café for a distraction. Something new to talk about. Anything.

And that’s when she saw it. A flash of white in the window. A streak of red. Mel grabbed Anne’s arm in excitement, and Anne gasped.

“What’s wrong?” she cried, but Mel shook her head, grinning.

“Everything’s alright, Anne. I think I’ve just found my bird.”

Read on:

About the author: Ella Shively is a recent graduate of Northland College. She is now working as a water resource specialist at the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation in Ashland, Wisconsin, USA. You can find her online at

About this chapter's featured poet: When not working as a marine scientist or Latin teacher, Xavi expresses himself artistically as the composer for his band The Lürxx. From time to time, he also writes poetry. "Life" was written as a reflection on the year 2020 which he spent building up the Plover Rovers.

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