Valentiny contest entry: Artie and Gus

It’s time for another fabulous Susanna Hill contest. The Valentiny contest has these rules: a children’s Valentine story coming in at a maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful.

My story is inspired by a real-life same-sex penguin couple who tried to hatch a rock but in the end were given a real egg to hatch. You can read Roy and Silo’s story here and there is a picture book about them too.
Emperor Penguins and chick

ARTIE AND GUS

Gus gazed at the egg nestled on Artie’s feet as he waddled around their enclosure, “Will it hatch soon? It’s been weeks.”

“I hope so! It’s getting heavy.”

Gus and Artie’s keeper tossed fish into their waiting beaks.

“Oh, Artie. Won’t you drop that rock? It’s never going to hatch.”

The penguins looked down. Did she say rock?

“I have an idea,” the keeper said.

She returned cradling something wrapped in a blanket.

“Keep this warm. Their mama and papa couldn’t manage two eggs.”

Artie and Gus talked to their egg. They nuzzled their egg. They hoped for their egg to hatch.

Until…

Tap! Tap! Tap!

A small jagged crack appeared.

“It’s time!” gasped Artie.

Tap! Tap! Tap!

A beak poked through the shell.

“Our baby! Keep tapping, little one.”

Tap…

Tap…

At last, a fluffy chick emerged and stretched her beak toward her parents.

“Peep!”

“What should we name her?” asked Gus.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Artie and Gus!” said their keeper as she carried in their fishy breakfast. “And welcome to the zoo, little one.”

The proud penguin parents looked down at their chick.

“What a perfect name!” said Artie.

“Happy birthday, Valentine,” said Gus.

“Peep!” 

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