What They Don't Know

The penguins know which way is south. They learned it in school. They also know algebra, biology, history, and how to catch krill with their bristly tongues. They don’t know how to read or write fiction, though; they never studied literature.

The penguins know how to follow each other, how to stay in line, and which singles bars to go to. They know how to woo their lovers into their rookeries. They know that gossip can be brutal, yet they gossip anyway, after walking so far. They don’t know how to fly.

The penguins know that Abe is sleeping around, stealing their mates. They know that this is unusual, that as a species, they are fairly loyal. They don’t know where Abe is now.

The penguins know that it’s not just the extinction of krill that could kill them, but that none of them can survive alone, that they will die if separated from the group, either by choice or not, perhaps within just a few days. They don’t know how to live independently.

The penguins know that Abe has been gone a few days now, maybe weeks. They are smart, they studied change management at university, and know how to rotate leadership, to cover for Abe, to fill in for each other, so that no one penguin bears the brunt of leading their colony. They know how to protect each other from the cold.

They still don’t know where Abe is.

Jessica Klimesh is a US-based writer and editor whose creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Frog, Cleaver, trampset, Atticus Review, Club Plum Literary, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a collection of linked flash stories. Learn more at jessicaklimesh.com

See more of Jessica's work in 9.2 and 9.2

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