We’re getting closer and closer to the end of #12days1story. Thank you so much to those of you who have stuck with me all this way, and those of you who have encouraged the journey into fiction. Special thanks especially to my sweet niece, Margaret who provided today’s art! 🙂
LONGSPUR – PART VIII
Was it days ago? Months? Years? Cal wasn’t sure anymore. The day the accident happened started like so many others.
Trudging out of the ground nest, he went looking for seed. Except that day, his father was there, poking and prodding, showing Cal the right way to scavenge. The ground was soft then, plentiful. The air was calm and hot, with very little breeze. All told, it was a great day to fly.
With full bellies, the two set out, rising up and above the forest, heading south toward James Bay. With a sky this clear, Cal could see both east and west. Water stretched endlessly, glittering beneath them as if the sun’s rays had accidentally melted and oozed all over the water. Gliding behind the General, he felt completely free.
He didn’t notice the clouds behind him, nor the quiet glances back by his father, who’d noticed a subtle change in pressure.
Soon, the sky towards the south was blue and bright, but the sky behind them was ominous, like a life-sized color block painting that should have been hanging in a museum, not over Cal’s little head. The General spoke up warily.
“I think it’s time we head home,” he said, starting a wide gliding turn to the right.
“But Dad!” Cal protested, following along reverently. Upon turning, he saw the colors that’d been lurking behind him. Grey, navy, black. He was suddenly quiet, and felt an ache build up in his stomach. He’d never flown in a storm before.
When the rain started, the General pulled up next to Cal and they flew in tandem.
“Don’t be scared Cal,” he’d said. “You were made for this. You can do this. Follow me.”
Peering through the now-murky sky, Cal could barely see. His back was wet and cold, and the warmth of the morning felt far away from this dreadful place. He kept quiet, and tried to keep up with his father, whose wings were pumping with abandon.
The raindrops felt like weights falling onto his back one after another, and he squinted trying in vain to keep his eyes open. Cal felt uncertain and cold, when he noticed a single light sweeping across the grey sky far below.
“Dad!” Cal cried, trying to get his attention. Surely that light meant warmth and goodness, and safety. “Look down there!”
The General didn’t hear him. Or perhaps heard, but didn’t respond. He kept flying straight, with a constant, steady speed. Cal grew angry and frustrated. “Doesn’t he see that escape down there?” Cal thought viciously. “This is miserable, and that place is warm. I can see it! Why won’t he listen to me?”
“Dad!” Cal was screaming out over the torrents of rain, driving his wings up and down. He pulled up closer to his father’s side. “Can’t we go down there to the light? It’s the only thing around—we’ll be safe there! Dad! Please!”
“Keep your eyes on me, Cal.”
Cal was crying now, desperate for a place to go. The sky lit up with flashes of electricity, and Cal grew more impatient. “Doesn’t he see we’re going to die out here?” Cal’s mind was increasingly clouded with despair. “Does he even care?”
The light swept back again, breaking through the pounding rain, like a glorious yellow arm stretching through the storm and out over the water. Cal felt it drawing him in, calling him to a place of comfort, safety, and warmth. He wanted to follow his father, but he couldn’t stand the pain any longer.
He moved his vision from his father to the light, and began a descent through the rain, down to what he hoped was safety.
The lighthouse was made of white-painted brick, and towered over violent waves cresting with white foam. Cal couldn’t see it for the clouds and mist. As he approached, Cal only saw the oscillating light grow larger and brighter, carrying him closer to the ground and thrashing water. The rain grew softer, but Cal’s desire for safety was deeper than ever. Cal’s wings accelerated, moving him toward brick and mortar. Thoughts of his father were far behind now. “This feels right to me,” Cal thought impetuously.
“Cal! Wait!” His father cried from behind.
And at that moment, Cal broke through the low-lying cloud cover and saw the truth behind the moving light he’d been chasing. A towering stack of century-old brick was just feet in front of him, and Cal had no brakes. He couldn’t stop. Cal tried to turn back towards his father, who he noticed was just behind him, but the momentum of his own flight was too strong. Cal braced himself for impact. But just at that moment, his father was speeding up.
Cal didn’t hit cold stone as he expected. He hit feathers, flesh and blood. The body of his father had taken the impact seconds before. Cal rushed into his father’s body, and ricocheted backwards, dizzy and nearly blind.
“No!” Flapping and flailing to regain his sight, Cal felt utter confusion. “NO!” Then he watched helplessly as his father’s limp body fall down into the thrashing waves.
Cal was cawing and beating and crying back and forth above the water, calling out for his father. But there was no answer.
Special thanks today Margaret. You’re pictures are amazing… and you were the inspiration for this story.
Readers: I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s installment! Leave comments… and you’ll be entered for tomorrow’s drawing!