Who Gets to Live

Posted: March 4, 2015 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , ,

PHOTO PROMPT - © Erin Leary

Carrie peered down from her twelfth floor window.
First time in the city.
What astounded her most? The ladies’ hats.
Bigger than wagon wheels, she thought.
And all those glorious white feathers!

Lucius supported the family
selling feathers just like them.
More valuable per ounce than gold.

He’d go to the rookeries
when the egrets were raising their young
and kill the big ones by the thousands, leaving
the babies to die. It hurt Carries’ heart
but that’s just the way things worked.

If Lucius stopped hunting,
their ten young ones would die
and that wouldn’t be right
now would it?

In the 1900’s plume hunting decimated the shore bird population along the Florida coast. I’ve attached a link to a short article about the practice and how it came to an end.


  1. How sad. Cruelty at its worst, or almost worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story I knew nothing about. And I love how the mushrooms do look like ladies’ hats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Claire. Plume taking was an amazingly sad story. That the plumes were most attractive when the babies were newly hatched. Yikes! P.S. It’s been awfully fun watching yoy bloom with the publishing of your book and now audio! Congrats.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra says:

    Great take on the prompt. I can see it now you mention it, and thanks for the information.


  4. So odd, we were just having this discussion on facebook recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is so sad what we have done and continue to do in the name of beauty and other thing.. still it is eat or be eaten for some.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. I wish we could figure out a different way than slaughter or pain. I just saw a short video on the horrific things men do to baby elephants to “tame” them to be ridden by tourists. I can’t remember what country it was in because the whole thing made me cry – really. It was outrageous. Thanks for reading and commenting,


  6. Although the story is sad and reminds me of the beaver killed for beaver hats at one time, I applaud the eye that saw the hats from the mushrooms in the photo. Well done, Alicia.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Life’s such a bummer. Too many ethical issues to consider. Interesting link – I never knew.


  8. draliman says:

    I like how you see ladies’ hats in the mushrooms!
    It’s very sad that all those birds died and then, by default, their young.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Alicia,

    I love your use of the prompt. Again, it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. You’ve given me a bit of an education and your story/poem is very well done.



    Liked by 1 person

  10. hafong says:

    Interesting and educational! I never thought about where those feathers came from. it’s good to be informed. So thanks!



  11. plaridel says:

    some have to die for others to survive. sad, but it’s nature’s law i guess.


  12. Oh, our history is full of senseless cruelty. Nicely crafted and great imagination.


  13. Great vision to see hats from above where others see mushrooms on the ground. Well told


  14. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Alicia,

    We, as a species, think that our lives our more important than those of all other life forms combined. We will do anything to protect our own in the short term while burning down the world in the long term. And that is what will be the death of the human species. It’s too bad that we couldn’t just start with ourselves and leave everything else alive.

    Your story illustrates the fatal flaw of humanity with a stark clarity that will still, in the end, be ignored by the masses. Brilliant work.




  15. Amy Reese says:

    I can see hats, too. Yes. Oh, this is so sad. It seems that survival is often at the expense of another species, which is especially true of humans. We are guilty of it everyday, aren’t we? Brilliant story, Alicia.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. erinleary says:

    What a sad thing! Your story taught me something and that’s always a pleasure.


  17. yarnspinnerr says:

    I loved this very different and green approach to the prompt.


  18. Susan Langer says:

    Good story. I like your stance on animal rights. It is sad what man-kind does in the name of survival of the fittest. 🙂


  19. mjlstories says:

    I like that you saw hats. Great story – makes its point whilst retaining my sympathy with the characters – interesting paradox.
    Not feathers any more, but fur is back in with the fashion industry, and with some of the same models who once refused to wear it . Crazy.


  20. Margaret says:

    I like how you’ve used a different perspective, and written about hats – very good. The ideas in your story are so sad, but you’ve written very sensitively, and the tragedy is not just the loss of the birds, but the poverty that makes it harder to stopsuch practices.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Liz Young says:

    At least Carrie had a conscience even if she silenced it in favour of her children’s lives. Many people still hunt for less reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a man who goes to eastern Washington – prairie and sage brush – to shoot prairie dogs. Just because he can. My opinion of him took a dive when I heard that come out of his mouth.


  22. Never knew anything about this. Good people will sometimes do terrible things to survive and after a while will even lose sight of the nature of what they’re doing. True in so many cases. Well-written and sharply drawn as always.


  23. rgayer55 says:

    I stuck a chicken feather in my ball cap once, but it didn’t do much for me. It did turn the ladies heads, unfortunately it turned them in the other direction.
    There’s a lot list of animals man has hunted to the brink of extinction for the pelt, feathers, or ivory. And they don’t mind raping the earth for oil, natural gas, or timber either. You captured it nicely with Carrie’s attitude and the way she justified it in her mind.


    • Russell, Maybe you should try one of those lovely rooster tail feathers next time. That would certainly turn a head or two. Thanks for reading and commenting. Always appreciate it. Alicia


  24. AnnIsikArts says:

    Thoughtful and imaginative. Yes, they do look like ladies’ hats and I was just this week looking through some 1950s concoctions in a bunch of French 50s magazines I have. A good few of these grotesque things had feathers and fur attached. I don’t like things with feathers. I always wonder how they got the feathers.

    Liked by 1 person

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