Up Where the Air is Clear

Percy had no idea where he had gotten that name, being a falcon, he didn't have many concerns past what was for dinner, or lunch, or really any form of sustenance the humans wanted to call it. He had heard rumors about something they referred to as breakfast but he had never seen anyone eat that on a blanket as he soared overhead. He thought he had found it once but it turned out to be some form of lunch and breakfast humans called brunch. This was a particular disappointing experience because Percy thought the small yapping animal the family with brunch had with them was perhaps an invitation for him to join them, and who was he to turn down food regardless of how ugly it was. He had quickly discovered that he was either not the guest they were waiting for, or that the yelping rodent was not food at all. After being swatted off with a towel, Percy decided that whatever it was, it was too much hassle to try and eat. He was running late for an appointment anyways, recently he had been seeing the local owl, Cornelius every month or so just to get his thoughts in order.

Nobody knew what it was, but something about the owl that made everyone feel at ease with telling him their personal woes. Cornelius was every creature in the woods' go to guy whenever they had to get something off their mind, so much so that Cornelius abstained from eating anyone who lived in the woods and was often brought food from the outside by thankful predators. Percy found him sitting in an oak tree, condoling a local raccoon who had found out his favorite house had one of those electronic doggy doors installed, and therefore was now an impenetrable fortress that, without the unknowing help of the cocker spaniel that lived there, the raccoon could not hope to breach. Not wanting to breach the raccoon's confidentiality, Percy landed on a nearby tree out of earshot and waited patiently. A few moments passed where Cornelius patted the now sobbing raccoon with his wing and whispered quietly to him. This seemed to calm the raccoon down, who thanked Cornelius and scampered down the tree and off into the wilderness. Cornelius ruffled his feathers, readjusted himself and motioned for Percy to fly over.

"Thanks for your patience," Cornelius said to Percy as Percy perched next to him "poor fellow hasn't been right for days, I finally had to refer him to a friend of mine over near Shady Willows, that suburb is so full of unprotected garbage cans he'll forget out his loss in no time. In any case, how are you doing?"

"Better," Percy said happily "I took a swipe at some rodent this morning! I didn't get it, it was with a group of humans but those exercises you gave me for musophobia seemed to have really worked!"

"I don't think that was a mouse," Cornelius said chuckling "the similarities are quite striking though, it's good that you seemed to have gained some confidence back at any rate. So tell me what do you want to talk about today?"

Percy shifted on the branch uncomfortably "It's a little embarrassing, but recently I've been afraid of heights."

Cornelius tilted his head to one side "Fear of heights? That would make it a bit debilitating; being a falcon and all wouldn't it?"

"It's awful," Percy said "I can't spot any prey before they know what's coming, I've been eating nothing oblivious rabbit for the past 2 weeks!

"Now let's just calm down here," Cornelius urged Percy, "there's no need to get excited about this, what seems to be the trigger for this phobia?"

"I don't know how it all started," Percy said after taking a deep breath "I know every time I try getting up past where I feel comfortable I worry that maybe the air beneath me will give out and I'll go plummeting down to ear. I'm a falcon the ground is already a little iffy with me past snatching prey off of."

"Seems to me that your problem is not so much with loss of control as lack of trust" Cornelius said unblinking. "I wonder….have you been through any thermals recently?"

"What?" Percy asked.

"You know, thermals," Cornelius explained "they're a particular favorite with you raptor types, columns of hot air that help lift you up higher, get a better scope of what's down there to eat. I would suggest maybe finding one and having a few spins around it."

"That's good advice," Percy said thoughtfully glancing over at a sparrow hopping along the branches above before looking back at Cornelius "thank you! I'll have to go give it a try!"

"No problem," Cornelius said hooting happily "want to have another session say in three weeks? I would say sooner but I'm heading north for a few days to see my cousin, poor fellow, has the worst habit of sleeping all night long." Cornelius spread his wings and flew off into the woods. Percy looked around and was about to take off himself when he heard a voice.

"So, are you going to try and find a thermal?" Percy looked over and saw the sparrow sitting on a branch above him.

"Were you listening in?" Percy asked somewhat offended, here he had always made an effort to respect the privacy of other animals seeking council and this little sparrow saw fit to intrude on his private dealings.

"Well it wasn't that hard, you were shouting near the end." The sparrow clucked "Personally I was thinking it was rather adorable, a falcon scared of heights? You must admit it's sort of funny."

"Nothing is too funny about it!" Percy exclaimed, "Do you know how impossible it is to live like this? I'm predatory I need the space!"

"Well," The sparrow began tenuously "I know there was a robin I know ranting about a thermal he caught yesterday. If you promise not to come after me first I'll show you where he found it. Cornelius mentioned it might help."

Percy struggled mentally for a moment, the thought of finding a fix for his problems was enticing, the thought he would be held to his word (falcons are very particular about personal integrity) of not devouring this sparrow gave him a moment of hesitation before he said "Let's go!" He could always find something else to eat.

With that the sparrow hopped off the branch and took flight, "Just follow me!" he chirped back as he sped through the woods. Not to be shown up by a sparrow, Percy leapt up in the air and soared after.

"Say," Percy shouted as the sound of air rushing past him "I never caught your name!"

"Ignatius!" The sparrow replied "Most call me Iggy though!" The pair broke through the last line of trees and sped across the open fields. "We're getting close!" The sparrow cried out, "he kept saying it was around here and the view was great one he reached the top!"

"How does he know where to say he found it?" Percy asked bewildered.

"We small birds have our ways!" Iggy chirped smugly "How do you think we evade you bigger birds all the time!? We're getting there get ready!"

"Okay just let me" Percy began but an involuntary upward jerk interrupted him and almost sent him tumbling down to earth. Regaining control he felt himself drifting lazily upward further and further. The chill of speeding through the air had been replaced with a slight warming sensation as he circled over the world below. Looking down he was shocked to see how far away the ground was in contrast to where he had begun his ascent.

"How is everything?" Iggy asked excitedly flapping up alongside Percy.

"Wonderful!" Percy laughed raucously "It's so wonderful! I can see that poor raccoon's house from here!"