Saturday, 21 June 2014

Birdwatching by Erin McCabe

Fred sat in the orchard eating his cereal, watching the first snowflakes of the season gracefully descend from the sky. He wrapped his large overcoat around himself and shivered; he loved these cold, crisp December mornings; it really was starting to feel like Christmas. He looked up from his bowl as he heard a rustle and watched two crimson breasted Robins weave and bob through the densely packed branches of a nearby apple tree. He laughed as one of the tiny Robin's swooped towards him, landing on the table beside him, glancing at his food.

"Hello little fellow, are you hungry?" Fred whispered, smiling at his new feathered friend.

The little bird smiled back and chirped happily: "Oi Keith!" It called over to the other bird, "Dennis was right mate, he did let one drop in this old man’s Cornflakes!"

Fred watched as the two birds sang to each other wondering what they were saying as he took another spoonful of cereal, blissfully unaware that there was an unwanted 'gift' lying amidst the sodden flakes and milk. Meanwhile, Wilma, his wife, had awoken and was making her way downstairs, still slightly disoriented from sleep.

"Fred dear, have you fed the dog?”  She shouted as she wandered through the house. "Nevermind." she yelled, seeing the dog licking its lips. 

Fred, however had not understood a word of this as he was lying on his back, spasming uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth and shouting horrific obscenities at the birds.

"Bloody hell, what did Dennis eat last night?" remarked Keith, pointing with his wing as they watched from a nearby branch.

"Must have been that spot of curry I had last night boys" Dennis tweeted as he joined them in the bush and pecked at a decaying apple.

There were quite a number of birds that had now collected in the surrounding branches to watch this man on the frozen ground making strange noises and convulsing.

"Fred, you'll catch your death out there; it's freezing!" Wilma called from the kitchen, still oblivious to the incapacitated state of her husband. "The trees tend to look after themselves at this time of year dear, come inside, would you like some coffee?"

Fred of course hadn't heard her; he was too busy dying in the back garden, surrounded by an engrossed assortment of Robins, Starlings and Blackbirds all watching as a thin layer of snow began to cover the old man. 

Fred groaned as his limbs tightened, his brain rattling and shaking about his skull while his nervous system endlessly burned. His vision had now begun to blur and fade and the sounds of the garden and that of his wife babbling about coffee slowly ebbed away from him. The last thing Fred saw before he lost consciousness, before his heart failed and his eyes rolled back in their sockets, was the asbestos bird bath at the bottom of the garden.

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