When his father admitted that he dropped him as an egg, he was told to repent to ease his father's heart. Though here's the thing, after years of being ostracized by his peers, being totally isolated from the rest of his kind, being mistreated by his father and the Elders, being told that he can no longer see his new first friends, and having the happiest day of his life being interrupted because of tradition, paranoia, and unjustified blame, Mumble has some choice words.
Happy Feet and all it's characters are not mine and belong to their rightful owners.
Enjoy the story!
Because when he was just an egg, l dropped him!
All of a sudden, it felt as if the world had collapsed around him. His chest suddenly felt constricted and his breathing became ragged. The shocked gasps and murmurs of those around him became echos in a sea of silence, dim against the palpating sound of his heart.
While everything around him became blurry and slow, his mind raced a million miles a second. Memories of his past, from his chick-hood to now, every suppressed, painful memory he ever had growing up suddenly surged to the surface, replaying their stinging events like a stab to his heart.
His first memory of emerging from the egg and hopping happily in front of his father, looking disapprovingly down at him.
I wouldn't do that around folks son... it's just ain't penguin, okay?
The next one of him leaving Mrs. Astrakhan after a failed attempt to search for his voice. He remembered looking up at him with desperation, absorbing every upset order from him with begrudged willingness.
You ain't going nowhere till you got yourself an education. You get them singing muscles big and strong, you got that?
Another day after standing at the back of the class, walking home to a concerned mother and an irritated father.
Mumble, you need to keep trying. No penguin is without a song, you just need to keep trying to find yours.
But dad, I'm trying! I really am! But no matter what I do, the song isn't coming out through my beak, it's through my feet.
Son, listen to me, no penguin has ever danced before like that, it's just not penguin. The only way you're ever gonna fit in is if you find your voice and keep at it. No one will ever accept you if you dance and don't sing.
You know it's true Norma Jean!
He hadn't stuck around for the rest, leaving to find solitude for his bruised feelings while his parents argued. While the argument never arose like it had since then, it stuck out so vividly in his mind that it had taken many weeks afterwards that he even felt like talking to his father again.
Still, memories of his parents discussing his future while they thought he was asleep only added too the tension between him and his father.
Norma Jean, I don't know what t do with him. His graduation his coming up and he's learned nothing from the class. I don't think he'll even graduate.
Shh. Memphis, you shut your beak. Mumble has been the perfect student, he's never missed a day of class and he still knows how to be a penguin. There is nothing wrong with him and he'll graduate with the rest of the class.
That's not what I'm talking about honey, I'm talking about his voice. You know what happens after graduation and I just don't think that without a voice he'll-
Our son will do just fine. He's a perfectly acceptable member of our nation and he fits in well enough with the others. Besides, if I recall correctly, it was more then just your voice which I was attracted to then... he'll be fine.
The memories then flooded forward, each surging with the intensity of a skua talon searing through flesh. All the times he went out to practice his voice turning back towards his pa every time, eyes wide, staring up at him with a silent plea, please be proud of me.
It was always a sigh of disapproval, a strict comment of displeasure, an ashamed glance away. He recalled yearning for his father's attention and affection, yet almost never seeing it. Over the years, his father had grown farther away from him, seeking to spend more time with the other fathers or at the Elders' sermons. any support from his parents always came from his mother, always encouraging him no matter what he did.
He could hear her distantly from the void his mind had now become, yet it was quickly drowned out by the emotions that followed the memories.
Sadness. Desperation. Rejection. Loneliness. Fear. Irritation. Anger.
All the times his classmates had laughed, jeered, mocked, or yelled at him came surging forward like a flood. The comments about his voice sounding like a dying creature or about his status compared to them. Surroundings were all these fully-fledged, magnificently sounding penguins, and then there was him, a barely molted, outcast bird with a cursed voice.
And over the years, he had almost come to accept it. He would always be on the fringes of his generation, never within the fold. Sure some would talk him to him, but it would either be out of pity or out of spite. And he trued to seek comfort in the fact that he was different, that his mistake was his own and he would have to live with how he was made.
He registered the word, but not the voice who asked it. Mumble. His name. Not song. Not music. Not even voice. Mumble, a word meaning something distinct, something difficult to hear, something not even audible at all.
He knew the origin behind his name. A name he was given by a friend when he was hatching out of the egg, just of how he sounded while emerging.
He wasn't mad at Gloria for giving it to her. After all, how could she have known how much of a thorn in his side it had become over the years. Heck, it wasn't even a name. It was a word penguin parents used when their child wasn't speaking or singing loud enough. It was the word his father used when describing every time he screeched instead of sang.
The cause of all his misfortune in the world.
An egg he dropped because he was careless.
An egg that miraculously hatched, only to be a song-less penguin.
All the looks of irritation and pity.
All the murmurs about him behind his back.
All the outright wrath and disdain shoved in front his face.
All the days and nights in solitude, desperate for interaction, yet fearing the rejection.
All this... because his father dropped him as an egg.
And he never knew anything about it. Until now. As an adult. Standing in front of the entire nation. Being accused for a crime he didn't commit. Standing alone because no one else would stand beside him. All because of his father.
"Heed his suffering heart and repent."
The words struck through his bubble of isolation, finally breaking him out of his thoughts and into the real world. The leader of the Emperor nation was staring at him. The Elders were staring at him. All eyes from every penguin present were all on him.
"Your father has admitted to dropping you as an egg, yet he has suffered long enough in silence. The nation has suffered long enough because of this scourge you bring upon us. You, Mumble HappyFeet, must repent of your sins. Swear to never use your feet in strange ways, to renounce your so-called friends, to be sincere in your devotion towards Guin and our nation's standards. Doing so that you may appease Guin into relieving us of this famine and relieving your father's suffering heart. This is your only way towards redeeming yourself."
He felt paralyzed, listening to every transgression placed before him with stunned shock. Never to dance again. Never to have any friends again. Always to stay in the shadows of society, never to have the chance to interact or express himself ever again.
He turned towards the owner of the voice. There his pa stood, right beside the head Elder, staring at him with a pleading expression. Now for once he saw him with open eyes. His feathers were slightly uneven from stress. There were bags under his bloodshot eyes from days and night of him worrying about the future of the nation and his position within it as the parent to the black sheep of the flock.
Here now, standing against him, asking to give up everything so that he might find solace from his years of suffering.
"Please, son, you can do this. It ain't so hard."
And just like that, the Moltov cocktail of emotions inside of him shattered.
"Why should I?"
All around him, the surrounding colony gasped in surprise and indignation, yet he fund himself now caring. All his focus was on his father, his eyes widened in shock, head reeling back somewhat from the response.
"What," he finally spoke out, his voice barely audible. It took everything he had to keep the fire from burning over, resorting to restraining growls instead.
"I said no. And do you want to know why? Because," his voice rose as he spun around, addressing all the nation, "because my father never told me why I was different. He knew, all this time, why I was unable to sing, why my feathers never grew like everyone else's did. Why I was always left out of everything that my generation did, just because I was different."
"No," he growled, spinning back around and glaring directly at his father's face. "You don't get the right to speak. Because I suffered for your mistake! Because I put up with all the years of the pitiful and angry glances, all the sneers of disgust when I tried to come up and say "hi". All the names such as 'freaky feet' or 'fuzzball' or 'screech beak'. And I put up with all of it, all throughout the years, hoping and praying to Guin for a chance to fit in, just once to feel like I belonged."
He spun back to the crows, all silent in stunned awe. His face had grown almost delirious, his eyes glazed over. His voice was eerily calm as he spoke. "And today it happened. Finally, I got to be the center attention for something other then just screwing up a performance or ruining a concert. No, I was the center of attention, the one leading everyone in the crowd. I was the one showing off, the one everyone was singing along too. Everyone was dancing along too. For the first time in my life, I felt happy to be different."
His head dipped down and he grew silent once more. Though his head was hidden, tears had begun to gather behind his eyelids.
"So why is it that I have to suffer for something that made me, made everyone happy? Suffer for my gift united the nation together.?"
He slowly turned around again, his eyes hidden from everyone. All were silent, baited and patiently waiting for him to continue speaking.
"No." His head threw up suddenly, his eyes sparkling brightly with unshed tears as he stared up at his father, standing motionlessly before him. "You know, I actually not mad for you dropping my egg pa. I'm not mad at you for standing on the sidelines, doing nothing, watching as I got bullied and teased. I'm not mad that you never did anything for me aside from the expected fatherly roles like feeding me and such. Heck, I'm not even mad that you never supported me in my talent, the one thing that made me happy growing up."
He paused, then swiftly waddled up to his father till they were inches away, pressing his beak right next to his.
"No, the thing I'm most mad about is this. This. Right now. The fact that I'm standing here, in front of everyone in the colony, being accused for a crime I had no part of, and now being expected to just throw away everything that makes me happy. My friends, my moves, everything. You want me to suffer and take the blame for everything happening right now, just because you won't take responsibility that the way I'm like this is your fault."
"And maybe in your mind it is!" His voice suddenly reached several decibels higher, causing his father to flinch back as his son's flippers suddenly thrust up into the air in a self-defeating manner and he stepped back a few paces. "Maybe in your mind, I'm the real bad guy here. That I'm the one responsible for causing this lack of fish, even though this started long before I hatched out. That I'm the one who drew upon Guin's wrath with my freakish dancing instead of singing like everyone else, even though your the one who caused me to be this way."
"No!" He pointed out his flipper to his father, tears finally slipping over his feathers as he glared furiously. "No! You don't get the right to speak. You don't deserve to to have the blame taken off of you just because you admitted your sin. And you as heck don't deserve to be forgiven after you never said anything about this to me after years of letting me suffer and now are expecting me to jump into the leopard seal's jaws because clearly you don't care about me as your son."
"And another thing," he started, pausing for a moment when he realized how aggressive his voice had become. "Today was supposed to be my special day," he said, toning his voice back down to an almost desperate quality. "Today, I got to be the center of attention, the one who wasn't sitting behind in the classroom. I was out there, leading everyone in a number, combining both my dancing with everyone's singing. Today I found my soulmate, even without a voice. Today was supposed to be my triumph."
He dipped his head down, obscuring his face as tears finally began to flow down his feathers. He inhaled deeply before slowly looking up to face his father, his eyes bright with tears and an burning anguish.
"Why couldn't you have let me be happy, just once?"
The entire colony was silent as the words of Mumble HappyFeet, the outcast, the fluffball, the freaky feet, delivered the final nail on the coffin. Sure the penguin had been a blight on the entire nation for years now, begin the only penguin who hadn't shed his baby feathers and the only one with a shrill, strident voice, yet it was now coming to light that despite this, he had never purposefully meant any harm towards the nation, granted the encouraged singing lessons from his father had caused several earaches, yet nothing worse.
A shiver passed up the spines of several of the Elders as a new realization came to light. Here was a penguin who had tried to fit in, yet could not, despite this not being his own fault. Today, they had pitted themselves, a nation, a father, against a young penguin, whose only crime was that he had tried to fit despite it being impossible for him. Shocking realizations kept sweeping over as the words struck cords within them. Though his feet were certainly bizarre and unseen in their society, it was never a real concern if he danced or not. And fair enough, though as much as they try to deny it, they all had borne witness to the musical dance number that he had lead but a few minutes ago. And it then also occurred to them, this had been the first time the newest generation had really gone up against the older generations, a demonstration of their skills, abilities, and camaraderie with each other. And really, did they have any right to break up something that had united them together?
While everyone pondered upon the words of Mumble HappyFeet, none were more stunned and frozen then Memphis, staring stunned at the ice below him. The wall inside of him, the one he had held back over the years by feelings of guilt, ignorance, and anger had now broken forward, releasing the flood of shame.
A chick growing up without a supportive father figure.
That chick growing up into an ostracized adult.
That adult being shamed and humiliated by those around him.
That adult being struck down by him,the penguin who had purposefully neglected his son's aspirations and shamed his enjoyment of his gift. The one who had barely cared how his son would be brought up and go out into the world, as long as it didn't directly bring dishonor on him. The one who had struck down on his son's triumph, bringing forth his guilt, making the events that had painfully shaped his son's life into an attack on him, just to try and salvage what little dignity he had left.
He had attempt to sacrifice his own son's happiness, his joy, his freedom, his life just to make himself feel significant again.
He wasn't just a bad father, he was a self-loving, pity-wallowing, neglectful, selfish parent. And he has all done this on the day his son would've been finally free of everything that had weighed him down over the years, and the weigh that it also brought on him.
What a fool he was.
The entire colony was silent. The only sound he could hear was his own panting breath and the slight breeze across the ice walls. The sun above had begun to disappear behind the tell-tale snow clouds, foretelling a blizzard. Everyone else was deep in though, no emotions being shown, no words being said, just frozen in the realization he had opened up tot hem.
He took his few first steps to leave.
"Mumble, where are you going?!"
A voice cracked out of the silence, snapping a few out of their meditative, blank states and towards the young, talented female calling out to the departing penguin. He stopped for a moment, turning back to look at her, an indiscernible expression on his face.
"This nation has nothing to offer me, Gloria. I have endured enough shame and humiliation staying here. It has given me nothing good, yet I see no reason why I should return the favor in the same manner they have shown me."
He turned around fully, puffing out his chest, trying to stand regally before the entire nation. "I'm going to find the aliens and stop them taking our fish. I know they're out there, I've seen what they have left behind and I believe I know where I may find them. When I do find them, I will stop them from taking our fish, and I will not return back until I know that you and every one of you can rest easy knowing that their will be fish tomorrow for you and ever one of you friends and family members and chicks."
"And I will not return back until I have completed my mission!"
Gloria had opened her mouth in protest and had stepped towards him before she was stopped by a flipper placed on her shoulder. Her head flipped around, expecting to see the face of her parents, their faces twisted in disappointment and forbidding her from following after him, as they had done when she was younger. To her surprise, it was neither her mother nor father, but instead Norma Jean, the mother of her true love. Her face was still, yet her eyes betrayed the anguish in her heart and mind. The message was clear as she shook her head softly at her.
Gloria took one long last, fleeting glance at Mumble's disappearing form, becoming shrouded in the snow flurries brought up by the sudden weather shift, followed by his loyal companions.
As the last of his figure vanished into the mist, she let the tears flow and for her form to be pulled swiftly into Norma Jean's embrace, allowing for the two to son softly against one another. The rest of the colony was silent, staring in awe and regret as they let their biggest shame and possibly last hope trek out into the great unknown.
And for the first time for many, in a long time, they truly felt cold.
Man, this took a while this write, but I do feel this work also helped me get out some of my own frustrations with life, albeit mien are different form Mumble's in many ways. I personally would've enjoyed it more if Mumble had spoken out against his father, the Elders, and the rest of the colony of their paranoia and strict, unforgiving traditions, especially when it was never his intent to cause them harm. However, I can understand in some ways why Mumble too the more passive route in the original film, because he's too noble a penguin to respond with the same anger and blind fury as they showed him.
If you guys are feeling a bit down or exhausted from finishing this, I recommend looking up pictures of bunnies kissing. Trust me, it is the perfect uplifting thing to see at this point. I do hope that you enjoyed the story. Please leave a review please and I'll see you next time. -v.t.7