This brief story was inspired by a fantail pigeon that visited our garden nearly every day. Fifteen or more pigeons, ranging from pure white to dappled beige, came to feed from seeds dropped from our bird trays, plus rice and seed I threw out to them. They became quite tame and would come to the kitchen window and other windows and tap — having trained me to throw out food for them!
But the fantail was my favourite. It amused me with its fluffy ‘bootees’, and delighted me by its fantastic flight with its wings and tail fully extended. Unfortunately, a neighbour (who fed the pigeons and housed them in a dovecote) found it in her garden with its head bitten off.
It is this fantail that inspired this story (the nucleus of a novel yet to be written?)
We do not have a photograph of the fantail but this is one of a clever pigeon that managed to shake seeds to the ground for other pigeons to eat. Curiously, it did not eat them itself, just kept providing seeds for the flock.
Pure white, the fantail pigeon — feathers lightly surrounding its headless spread-eagled corpse — lay on the fragrant, newly-mown grass, the red of a little blood drawing the eye to the dreadful tragedy of nature in the raw.
Tears streamed down Annie’s cheeks. For weeks she had watched that angelic bird feed off the tray in her rose-scented garden, wondering at the sight of such a magnificent creature. Her sore eyes had followed the bird’s flight: feathers caught in sunlight, beauty in motion, and a healing balm to her weary spirit. With joy she had fed it with rice, slowly getting it to come closer but never close enough to feed from her hand. And now it never would.
To her, the bird had been a comforting reminder of her dead husband, a breeder of fantail pigeons. She could see him as he lovingly nurtured each one with food held in his hand. But unhappy memories of the birds being taken away after his death continued to haunt her. She should have stopped them. Her family had no right to sell what were hers and Larry’s. She could have looked after them, if only she’d had a little help.
She smiled at how Larry had thwarted their efforts to keep them apart, This magnificent specimen had returned. Everyone had said it was too young to be one of Larry’s birds and wasn’t tame enough anyway, but she knew better. ‘Don’t you tell me that bird isn’t Larry’s. I know it is… don’t ask me why, I just know it. You know nothing, about pigeons, or Larry.’
Now the bird had been murdered. Just like Larry had been. That was no accident when the truck ran over Larry’s head, no matter what the coroner has said. ‘Oh Larry, they are trying to separate us. But they won’t succeed.’
Letting go her walking frame and ignoring the pain that racked her arthritic limbs, with deep reverence she stooped to pick up the pigeon’s lifeless body. Tears now mingling with the dried blood, a glossy red gleamed in the bright sunlight, uniting her fragile life to the motionless corpse.
As Annie reached for the bird, her legs suddenly gave way. She reached the ground with a snap of her bones. Drenched in a red haze, agonising pain shot through her whole body, now burning with fire.
Annie embraced the bird and held it to her breast, It was Larry, her Larry.
The torture ceased. Joy burst from the heart that had been broken the day her Larry died. As life now misted from her body, she knew, without doubt, Larry had come to carry her home.
Psychedelic light, tongues of angels, fragrant scents, sensual touch, blended together in an unspeakable rapture as she felt herself lifted up… up….
Larry… Larry… she tried to say, but the words would not come.
‘She’s coming round.’
‘Thank you, doctor. We thought we’d lost her,’ said a familiar voice.
‘Close call. But she’s not out of the woods yet.’
‘All over that damn pigeon. It’s a nursing home from now on,’ The voice grew louder in Annie’s ear. ‘Did you hear that, Mother? Fractured bones because of that stupid pigeon. Whatever possessed you to pick it up?’
Tears welled up in Annie’s eyes. Larry… Larry… but still the words refused to come.
The voices drifted away. A blanket of peace descended.
Annie’s heart had stopped beating, but her lips were smiling.
If you enjoyed this short story, why not try one of my cheap eBooks? You will find my Designed By Love trilogy eBooks for sale at the Dare Empire Media bookstore. Also my new book, The Dark Mirror.
You will find information and excerpts at the bookstore.
Now for the latest eBook — The Dark Mirror