We sat having a picnic and I’d grown tired of keeping track of all four of them. The area was fenced; they’d be fine. I lay back on the rug, feeling the soft grass velvety beneath, sighing as the first spring sunshine warmed my face.
It had been a long and cold winter, and the first picnic of the year was always a big event. We would meet, my sisters and I, drink warm wine and cool coffee and chat while the kids ran riot.
There was always a football to be found, and the boys would run, kicking it around with no rules nor referee. The smaller ones would cry a few tears of frustration as the older ones kept the ball to themselves, until we yelled lazily over to them to play fair.
The girls would sit in a circle like smaller versions of us, making daisy chains, plaiting long hair and singing songs with their high voices. The youngest of all ran to the top of the little hillock in the middle and bellowed at his cousins to follow him, to notice him, to pay him some attention. When they ignored him he fell to the grass and kicked out in rage, peeping out from a thick blonde fringe to see if anyone was watching.
God forgive us, none of us were.
The sun moved a little across the sky, and laughing, we sat up to check where they all were. The football game had finished, and five little lads sat in a solemn circle, with long pieces of grass trailing out of their mouths. I looked about for the youngest, and saw him still at the top of the hillock, his arms raised to the sky. As I watched, he cooed up at something, and my mouth fell open as I gazed up at what he could see. An enormous bird – an eagle? A vulture? Circled him, staring down with shining black eyes. My mind felt dashed in ice, as I tried to grope for the words. Sky-devil? Terror?
‘Look at…’ began my sister, as I stood up shakily and began to sprint toward him. My feet felt like lead weights, the soft grass reaching up to trip me with green tentacles.
‘NO!’ I screamed as the bird thing circled lower, and reached out to my precious baby with impossibly long talons.
‘NO! Samuel!’ I dived forwards with my arms and hands stretched to breaking point, when the bird’s black claws hooked into his shoulders and the enormous grey wings began to power upwards, to lift him, to lift away my baby into the sky.
The other children were watching, their mouths tiny round circles of black. My sisters were screaming, people were running, and I was up and jumping, and I swear the tip of my finger touched the bottom of his tiny yellow shoe, and then he was gone.
‘Bye Mummy!’ he called down, and I screamed and screamed until my voice splintered, and he was up in the clouds, a little black dot, until the sun went behind a cloud and he was gone.
Carolyn is mum to three and owner of a ridiculous imagination. She writes horror and other stuff in different lengths depending on the position of the moon. She can be bribed with good bread and butter, or maybe a chip sandwich… see more @Viking_Ma