Photo by me, at bird sanctuary.
If you haven’t read part one, check here first. Enjoy and have a lovely day!
Auntie was a good woman. From the moment I was her Niece, she stopped treating me as if I did not understand, she stopped talking in whispers over my head. The moment I was her Niece, she began to teach me. I was not a good learner. My mind was to full of sky and wind. If she tried to teach me inside, I would be daydreaming out the window and door. If she tried to teach me outside, I would fill her with questions about the clouds, grasses, and winged things.
She stopped trying to teach me, and let my learning take it’s own path. Maybe I could not read like the children in the villages, but I could identify every butterfly and moth, every bird and beetle. I could tell her which days would be rained, and which would be clear. Seasons passed. I saw the changing of colors, felt the air turn crisp and comforting. Then the death of the land, when the crisp air became sharp and the earth was covered in white rain. She taught me about snow, and about how the earth was sleeping, not dead. Then the air turned soft again, and the earth woke with buds and blossoms. From hot to cold to hot again.
The other children did not like me. Said I was strange and unfriendly. I did not intend to be either, but my interests diverged from theirs so wholly that there was no bridging the gap. So Auntie was my teacher, but in friendships I was lacking. So she brought me an injured bird, and told me to tend it.
From crisp to soft I tended that bird, all through the sleeping months. When blossoms came again I took the bird, clasped firmly but not unkind in my hands and marched into the hills. There I set the bird free. She flew, a beautiful thing, and I watched her until she faded from my sight. I stayed in the hills, listening to the hum of new bees, and stumbled on a broken egg.
It was the size of my torso then, chipped and empty and clean. So clean, I knew, that it was not a fresh egg. I tapped it and it did not shatter. The shell glistened and shone, though it was not a bright color like a robin’s egg. It was brown, mottled, and cast a sheen that dazzled me into almost forgetting it was their. I could not take the whole thing to show Auntie, so I broke a corner off and knotted it in the hem of my shirt.
Wind buffeted me and when I looked up, I saw a great bird – a dragon, I later learned – with scales and leathery wings. It called, trumpeted, howled. The sound washed through me and I knew it mourned, knew it’s baby had been snatched away, it’s mate killed. I reached for the dragon, telling it in silent words that I’d felt it’s pain. For a breath of time it turned it’s gaze on me, great black eyes boring into my soul. And then the dragon shot high into the sky and disappeared.
I ran all the way home, my mind abuzz with the voices of nature all around me. They broadcasted their lives, tiny though they were, and to me each of them became the most important creature in the world.
Auntie took one look at me and cursed, a habit she’d long since broken. I don’t know why she cursed. When I showed her the bit of egg, she took it from me gently, wrapped it up, and put it on top of the mantle. She told me that I needed to stay inside for a time, and when I asked her why, she told me I was ill. I didn’t feel ill, but I listened to her, because she had taught me so many things, this too she must know.