Coquette School's Field Day
by Dana Chiueh
(Setauket, Long Island, New York)
Simone, Louise, Alyssa and Evangeline are four Calliope girl hummingbirds who are neighbors and go to Coquette School. Yesterday was an exciting day for them because their team was participating in their school's annual Field Day, where all kid hummingbirds compete on what they have been trained in the PE classes all year. They called their team the SEAL because their first names all start with a letter in the word SEAL.
Simone, the most responsible one among the group, got up the earliest, and already finished her breakfast and two rounds of warm-up exercises. Alyssa, the brainy one, was reading the Figure Hovering Flight magazine and trying to do sit-ups at the same time. Evangeline, the pretty and athletic one, was also awake but was pondering whether or not she should use the falcon dive movement the teacher taught her the previous day in the Wilderness Quest event.
Louise, the youngest and most free-spirited one, was still fast asleep, lying flat with her wings glued to the bed. She needed a lot of rest for her event, Reverse Zig-Zag Racing. Finally, Simone managed to wake Louise up and snapped Alyssa and Evangeline back to reality, and together they all flew to school as the clouds opened up to reveal a shiny Sun.
The first event of the Field Day is Alyssa's signature event: Hovering. You are supposed to hover for as long as you possibly can and the winner is the one who hovers the longest.
"Ready, set, GO!" the PE teacher yelled. Alyssa started hovering and did very well. She had an advantage over her competitors because she was taller, but she still got only 7 out of 10 points, earning her 7th place in the Hovering event. Just then, Louise began to cry. "Oh no, we didn't get a perfect score!" "Don't worry, Louise," Simone soothed her, "we'll pull into first place. I promise. We just have to really focus in the following events. GO SEAL!"
The next event is Reverse Zig-Zag Racing: the race track is a wide tube in a sharp zig-zag shape, and whoever can fly BACKWARDS from one end of the tube to the other within the shortest time wins.
This was Louise's event. She was chosen for this event because she was the lightest and could bounce back better if she slammed into the tube's walls. Also, she was particularly good at backward flying because she had always felt it was much more fun flying backwards.
Louise practiced twice a week for three weeks. Eventually she was able to trim off 15 seconds. But, she was still 5 seconds from the best record. When it was her turn, she went through the tube as fast as she could. It was her best record ever, because she suffered the least slams compared with her opponents. Louise earned a full 10 out of 10 points and got 1st place!
The third event, Flying Relay, is the classic baton relay, but in the air. The Seal's secret weapon was Evangeline, who could fly very fast, much faster than any of her competitors, but only for short distances. Still, they thought that with her, they could beat everybody else.
The first wing (as leg in a relay race) for the Seal was Simone, who delivered a decent performance and brought her team to 5th place. Then Alyssa took the baton from Simone as the second wing and eventually enabled her team to catch up to the 3rd place. Louise followed Alyssa as the third wing, and, being young and energetic, managed to move the Seals into 2nd place. As the final wing, all Evangeline needed to beat was a really fast boy for the gold medal. For a while she passed him…then it was beak to beak. Everybody was straining their necks, shielding their eyes, and standing up to see who reached the end point first. Eventually the boy won. The Seals received only 9 out of 10 points, but that's enough to secure the 2nd place.
The last event is the most challenging and also most popular: the Wilderness Quest, which is an Obstacle Course in a forest. The entire team has to work together to avoid camouflaged Venus Flytraps that close their trapping leaves and slow down the players, battle an aggressive hornet that guards a red nectar-filled Amber Flush rose to retrieve the most nectar, and finally race to the finish line. Because this rose's nectar is uniquely red, it is impossible to cheat by bringing nectar from other flowers to the finish line.
Alyssa was flying around with her wingtip pressed to her forehead and her eyes closed because she needed to concentrate to come up with a good strategy to bypass the hornet guard, and finally she devised a clever plan to trick the dim-witted honeybee.
"Hey, you ugly bee! I challenge you to a nectar-slurping contest!" Alyssa shouted, attempting to divert the bee's attention to her, "But to make it more interesting, let's make the flowers move around during the contest!" Knowing that figworts are among hornets' favorite, Simone and Louise raised 2 figworts with their beaks to entice the hornet guard. The bee kept glaring menacingly at Alyssa with his beady little eyes, and finally decided to take up the challenge and joined her down on the grass, his eyes examining her with suspicion. After the contest started, Simone and Louise moved the figworts as far away from the Amber Flush rose as possible. All the while, Evangeline hid on a far-away tree and, as soon as the bee was out of sight, flew to the rose and began slurping nectar out of the rose as fast as she could. When Evangeline was done, Simone and Louise moved the figworts and the bee back to the rose, to make it more difficult for other competitors to obtain the red nectar.
After successfully collecting the red nectar, the Seal team members had to pass through a dense patch of camouflaged Venus flytraps, which could have easily trapped every single one of them. "Quick! Everybody huddle around Evangeline!" Simone shrieked. "We have to sacrifice ourselves to protect Evangeline if we want to win, because Evangeline is the one with the red nectar, and we cannot win if she is trapped. Let's form a protection layer around her, so that she won't be caught by any Venus flytraps." Everybody agreed with this plan, and as expected one by one they were each snared by a Venus flytrap. After leaving behind the Venus flytrap patch, Evangeline was the only one left in the SEAL team, and without further ado, she raced to the finish line with all her remaining might. Evangeline came out on top and the SEAL team won this event! All the other teams were still struggling with the hornet and the Venus flytraps because they did not use a protection strategy like the SEAL team did.
In the awards ceremony, the PE teacher announced, "The Seal, Sparkles, and Perfects, please come up. The third place medal goes to Perfects, with 25 points. And the second place title belongs to the Sparkles, with 34 points. The Seal team is the champion, with 36 points! Congratulations, everybody! The Seal, your prize is a ribbon with an official golden seal on it. You get to inscribe whatever you want on the center of the seal. What do you want to put on it?"
After exchanging looks but without talking to one another, the girls unanimously burst out, "SEAL." And a round of wild laughter and High-Five's immediately followed.