The Bird Who Saved His Food

by Tammi Browne-Bannister

Once upon a time an albatross got caught in a fisherman’s net that was spread out at sea.

“Help me!” the bird cried, for he was trapped, but no one came.

A long while after a beautiful scarlet crab was on the bottom of the seafloor scavenging for scraps and pieces of food.

“Hey!” she said on seeing the large bird floating above. “A whole bird just for me?”

The crab looked around, but saw no other forager about. The crab climbed upon the net, heading for the unlucky bird, but when she reached him, her face took on a sour expression.

“He’s not fit to be eaten. He’s still alive and I prefer stale food.” The bitter crab pinched the bird on its rump, waking him up.

“Quickly! Release me!” the albatross demanded at once.

“Just a minute,” said the crab. “If I trust you, and free you, you’ll soar high, drop me to the ground and pick away my flesh in an instant. I’m weak and you’re strong. So tell me, please, why should I help someone like you: a powerful bird with jaws of death?”

“No! No!” The bird gobbled up some of the salty water. “Trust me,” he coughed. “I will not eat you nor set upon you with vengeance. I have no reason to harm you once you’ve rescued me. I promise!”

There was something in the bird’s voice that appealed to the crab, something that made the crab believe that the bird was being truthful with his promise. On the one hand, the crab didn’t want to take any chances with her life. On the other hand, she did want to save the albatross, because the albatross seemed to speak with sincerity.

“Alright then, tell me this,” said the crab. “What will you do for me if I save you?”

The struggling bird considered this question for a while, then said, “What would you like me to do for you?”

“I’ve always wanted to fly,” said the crab.

“Granted!” said the bird. “If you free me, I’ll fly you whenever, wherever. But it can only be done if you get me out of here.”

“You promise?” the crab asked.

“I promise.”

The scarlet crab was happy and excited. She clipped the net away from the big bird’s body.

“Thank you,” the bird said. “What is your name?”

“My name is Shelley,” the crab smiled. “What’s yours?”

“My name is Al,” the bird flapped. “Well, Shelley. Whenever you feel like flying, snap your pincers and call my name. I’ll come right away.”

“I’d like to fly now,” said Shelley the Crab.

“My wings are sore from being tied down for so long. I promise to take you up when I’m feeling better.”

With that Shelley the Crab watched Al the Albatross soar over the horizon until he disappeared from her vision.

Months later Shelley the Crab was sitting on the edge of a rock, sunning her shell when a shark came out of nowhere. Shelley’s short legs scuttled as fast as they could to take her to the other side of the rock. But the shark rushed at her with such force, that a wave washed Shelley into the sea. The shark dove at her. He cut through the water like a knife slicing through butter, opening his wide jaws and baring his jagged teeth. Shelley swam down, out and up to get away but the shark followed her every move. Shelley swam and swam until she reached the rock where she was sunbathing. The shark jumped at her with a loud and angry snap. But he snapped at thin air.

Shelley froze on the rock, watching the shark’s maneuver. Sheer panic almost caused her to forget Al the Albatross. His words ran through her mind. “Whenever you feel like flying, snap your pincers and call my name.”

“Al! Al!” Shelley snapped and snapped her pincers and called the albatross as loudly as she could.
In one swoop the albatross whisked her away to the clouds, leaving the shark and his snapping jaws behind.

“Are you alright?” Al asked Shelley.

“I am now,” she said. “I was daydreaming about flying when that shark came along. Thank you very much for saving my life.” She smiled at him.

“You’re welcome,” said Al.

Al the Albatross, landed all the way over on the other side of the sea near a salt pond.

“This is Crab Cove. It is too shallow here for sharks to swim.”

Shelley looked around and saw crab holes everywhere. There were too many to count and she started grinning.

“Thank you,” she said. “This is my new home.”


About the author

Tammi Browne-Bannister is a fiction writer from Antigua who studied creative writing at the Barbados Community College. Her short story, 'Mango Belly' was published in the September 2011 issue of Anansesem and her short story ,'The Night You Left' was short-listed for the 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge Prize. Tammi has also written /A Muddle or a Revelation?', a critique for the visual arts department of the Barbados Community College for an exhibition titled, 'COME OUT TINGS.' Her short stories have also medalled at the National Independence Festival of Cultural Arts (NIFCA) in Barbados. Recently, Cocks, Hens, Dogs and a Swine, a short fiction, was published in St. Somewhere Journal. Tammi lives in Barbados with her husband and children.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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  1. Maounda ChristopherJune 03, 2013


  2. A cleverly written piece, which in my opinion explores the virtues of helpfulness, trust, and friendship. It was easy to feel the emotions of the character "Shelly" as she tried desperately to evade the shark...a wonderful piece overall. Great job Tammi

  3. Great story Tami- love it:)

  4. Thank you everyone for your kind comments. A special thank you to Ashworth...I appreciate your comments.

  5. Congrats on the piece, Tam... I have a date with my daughter's school book club soon. Think I'll share this with them and spread the word!

  6. This is wonderful have a know I am looking forward to the children's book *wink

  7. Thank you Linda and Cher. I am speechless. Linda, I hope the children enjoy this story. I've been playing around with fables and Anansi's style. By the way I'd be interested to hear the children's critique. Cher, I will deliver - without a doubt.

  8. Its wonderful....keep it up and I look forward to your next item.....Joe....

  9. AnonymousJune 05, 2013

    Very interesting story Tammi, you are very creative and talented. I could actually see what was happening in my imagination, and that brings lots of life to your story. Well done.

  10. Carol GaskinFebruary 05, 2014

    Very enjoyable read Tam! even for us adults!! Loved it!! I'd buy your children's get to it!!



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