Bird of Prey

My wife told me that she had bought a heron the other day. She said that it would stop the seagulls eating the goldfish in the pond. I tried to understand why she had done such a thing but decided not to question her decision.

You see she had not been herself for some time and this was just another instance of her increasing eccentricity. It had come on quite suddenly when she had turned fifty and there had been a marked change in her personality. I put it down to the menopause at first but then her mood swings became more extreme. One minute she would be smiling and laughing, the next she would burst into tears and say that she did not understand the meaning of it all.

Matters got worse and worse and I never knew who would be there when I got home from work at night. I tried to talk to her about it but when I asked her what was wrong she would just get up and retreat to her room. We would then have days of silence until she re-emerged a totally different person from the one who had entered.

I waited at the bus stop for her and was surprised to see her with the heron, its head covered and its legs protruding from under her arm. It appeared extremely still to me and I assumed that the vet had given it something to calm it down. My wife just smiled and walked past me. I followed at a discreet distance, my eyes fixed on its long thin legs. I followed her around the back of the house to the garden. She bent forward took the bird from under her arm and stood it upright, pushing its feet into the soil.

I stood there for a moment and then told her that it seemed very docile. She snarled at me, asked me what I had expected and went back into the house, slamming the door. I approached it slowly, placed my hand on its head and felt its coldness. It was plastic.

She came out and smiled at me. She said she was pleased that I had made friends with it and asked me if I would like to give it some food. She placed some small fish in a bowl and pushed it in front of it. She waited a while then put her finger to her mouth and beckoned me towards her. It wouldn’t move she said. That was its nature. It was trained to be as still as possible. It was just waiting for its prey. She left me, moved back into the house and opened the curtains. She placed her chair there and just sat still, waiting.

We moved her to the home some weeks ago and she is happy there. We even moved the heron with her. She has given it a name now and she spends all her time looking out, waiting for it to move. Just waiting.

© Graham Walker 2012

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Published in Ripple

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jpockele.