H. M. L. Swann
Day 13: Birds
300 Days of Writing
Day 13: Birds
The heron moves slowly. It glides through the river, one step at a time, expertly stepping over rocks only pausing to search for fish. Its long neck extends out from its body, a fluid motion as if there was nothing rigid in its skeletal structure.
A fish flickers through the water, and with precision, the heron jabs its long beak into the river, catching its prey.
Chomping on the minnow, the heron bobs its head up and down on its neck, using gravity to assist it in killing its prey.
“Daddy, daddy! What has the bird got?”
“The bird is eating, sweet one.”
“Because it’s hungry.”
“But why a fish.”
“Because some birds eat fish.”
The father closes his eyes and breathes in through his nose, willing patience to come to him, but it doesn’t.
“Can I go touch it?”
“No.” He opens his eyes but it’s too late. His little girl is waddling through the water towards the bird.
“Janie, come back here!” he calls after her, but she’s already at the heron. He’s amazed it hasn’t flown away yet. Instead, it’s observing the little girl with Jurassic eyes. Eyes that seem fit for a pterodactyl.
The father blinks and in that split second his daughter is gone.
He runs into the river, soaking his slacks and ruining his dress shoes. He is searching for any sign of his little girl or the bird, but they are gone.
Crying, he wipes tears from his eyes to better search the sky. Did the heron fly off with his baby? He sees nothing but seagulls and grey clouds?
The man calls 911 but no one believes his story. How could a heron steal a human child? Instead, the police take the man into custody, under the arrest for the disappearance of his own child.
“It wasn’t me!” he repeats over and over, the only words he ever says again.