Pedro (Story by Risa Peris)

There was always talk of those penguins in Antarctica. The ones that committed suicide. It happened nearly every week. You could see a lovely penguin break off from his community and just start walking into the interior of the Antarctic. It was a slow individual walk to certain death. It was suicide. Scientists didn’t know why the Penguins did it. But did they really know why humans committed suicide? There was never a single reason. Sometimes the penguin suicides were more sad to the scientists than human suicide. You see, scientists were forbidden to intervene in the wildlife in Antarctica and so when a penguin took off, the scientists could not stop the adorable waddle walk into the white blanket of nothingness. At least with humans, you can intervene.

One Autumn day as the bulk of the inhabitants was getting ready to leave Antarctica for winter, a scientist saw a penguin break from the colony. But this penguin headed into the open waters. The scientist was in a boat in the sound and watched with bewildered sadness as the penguin swam and swam.

“Poor thing,” said the scientist.

The penguin, let’s call him Pedro, was tired of winter. All the penguins had to huddle together in the hard winter and Pedro was quite sick of his fellow penguins. Besides, he hadn’t found a wife yet and there was no egg to protect so Pedro took off. He would return. He said good-bye to no one. Not even his one friend who tried helping him find a mate.

Pedro swam and swam and the waters became warmer. Pedro was tired but the warm waters felt lovely. One day, after many weeks of swimming he swam to the shore. There was sand, trees, and strange people like the people who stay in the Antarctic and stare at his colony.

Pedro waddled up to a shack. He stopped and saw a man sitting. The old man had a cloudy eye. The man smiled and patted Pedro’s head.

“Would you like some punch?” The old man’s voice was raspy. There were few people on the beach. Pedro walked into the shack. There were men sitting on stools at a bar and were drinking spirits from bottles that Pedro observed amongst the strange people in Antarctica. The old man held a cup to his beak and the Pedro drank the sweet concoction. How lovely. When it was night the man led him down a street to a dark apartment. The man fed him some fish. Delicious. Pedro became very fond of the old man. He was better than finding a wife and so Pedro stayed with the old man until he knew it would be summer again in Antarctica. So Pedro squawked and gently pecked at the old man’s feet and then dove into the water and made his way back to his colony. This process went on for five years when Pedro came back to the shack and noticed it was boarded up and empty. A man was sitting on a chair outside the shack and was seeking respite from the sun.

The man, younger than the old man, smiled. “Hey, it’s the penguin. Sorry but the old mad died. He was such a good man.” The younger man wiped tears from his eyes and Pedro somehow understood that the old man was gone. Pedro was quite sad and so he swam back to his colony. His friend tried to connect him with a female penguin but Pedro wasn’t interested. He missed the old man. And so, one day in winter Pedro headed for the interior. Stygian dark and ice. Why did he do it? There are many reasons penguins commit suicide but Pedro knew of only one. His heart was broken.


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