She was always moving in circles.
First, they were slow and soothing, a gentle loop while ensconced in the darkness and the warm fluid surrounding her. All she had to do was push her head up a little, enough to throw her body off balance and into a spin. She kept it going by kicking her legs a little.
When the fluid became less, she realized she was trapped in a tight cocoon. If she tried to move, she became frightened due to the loss of warmth and comfort that she was once familiar with. So she stayed curled up as she grew.
One day, her whole world began to spin. It started off slow, reminiscent of the gentle turns she made herself. Then, absolute panic set in as her world began to spin faster and faster. She squeaked and squeaked, but no response occurred as she continued her ceaseless, out-of-control turning.
Just as quick as the disaster began, it stopped.
She twisted around in her cocoon, writhing as a fish out of water. She had to end the spinning in her head and break free!
Several sharp jabs from her nose tore an opening in the cocoon. Cold air wafted in. Her nostrils tried to open, to take in the scent. She struggled again, nipping at the hole with her tiny jaws.
The hole was now large enough to accommodate her head and neck. She wriggled her whole body upward, her muscles aching and body jerking in spasms.
Another barrier was beyond the cocoon. She huffed and snapped at it, ramming her nose into it, the cold air stronger on her skin.
She pushed and pushed. She eventually tired, and stopped to rest. Several openings surrounded her, letting in more air and something new—something bright, from the world beyond.
After a few moments of rest, she gathered her strength and pushed upward again. The openings widened slowly, letting in the cold, the air, the brightness of dawn.
Her muzzle peeked out of the egg, into the mist of a cool Cretaceous morning, in the middle of a forest enclave she would eventually call home.
She widened the opening with her head, the cocoon at last shattering. She took in her first rapid breaths, and opened her bright green eyes. Her pupils dilated and constricted as the light filtered through them for the first time, and the world suddenly came into focus.
She squealed, a piteous little shriek that made the alpha female cease her feeding and rush to the nearby nest.
No! They’re not supposed to hatch yet! was the paralyzing thought.
The alpha female cooed in response to the tiny hatchling, fanning her primaries around her nest of pine needles and cycad fronds, protecting her and her adopted siblings.
The hatchling freed herself from the egg, her striped down matted and covered in amniotic fluid. She squeaked and squeaked, tottering and landing on her pubic bones, swinging her tiny fat tail behind her. She began to chase it, scooting in an awkward circle while her adopted brothers and sisters were still trapped in their cocoons.
The alpha female watched the hatchling curiously. She had never seen a hatchling do that before, and not with such intensity.
The alpha cooed and chirruped to the hatchling, lowering her muzzle and gazing at the newborn. But the hatchling did not respond. The hatchling continued to move in aberrant circles while her down began to dry, fluffing up in excitement as she kept up the movement. The alpha female breathed on the chick, usually a warning that she would snap her jaws next. But the hatchling only stopped for a moment, fascinated by the path in the nest she had made.
The alpha female noticed the pattern and sat up straight, gasping.
“Ra!” she yammered, her voice carrying into the depth of the forest.
It was then that the hatchling stopped her scooting. She tilted her head to one side, gazing up at her panicked foster mother, the alpha female of her pack. She listened intently.
“Ra! Ra come quick…it’s a sign from the Way!”
The alpha male of the pack burst from the underbrush and the evergreen trees, his plumage raised in panic mode. He hurried to his mate, who was still poised over her young protectively.
Both avians gasped. The hatchling paused her circles to gaze up at her anxious parents.
“Circles within circles!” Wadjet warbled.
“Lines within lines…” Ra mused, staring at the little fluffy brown and cream chick. She gurgled a hello, bobbing her head. She then continued scooting along in the dirt and needles without a care in the world.
“Do you think…she was chosen? Is that why she hatched so soon?!” Wadjet tried to no avail to keep the pain and sorrow from her voice. Ra lowered his head toward his mate submissively, trying to calm her.
“Her life path won’t be certain until she matures,” Ra shook his head, staring at the gurgling hatchling. “She did hatch much faster than the others…”
“I don’t know why,” Wadjet suppressed a wail of grief. “I had to hunt, I couldn’t guard the nest forever…”
Ra entwined his neck with his mate, cooing gently. “Do not blame yourself; the hatchling was ready.”
“What happens now?” Wadjet looked to Ra, her mate, her trusted confidant in all things. For the first time as a nest mother, she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know how to raise such a tiny hatchling. How could she feed it? Would it survive?
Ra gazed at the hatchling, then at Wadjet, his pupils dilating in affection. “She will be a new challenge, I’m afraid. If she survives, she is stronger than we knew.”