We Meet Again by David Macfie
For the whole week I was in a fluster. I couldn’t get Lara out of my mind. When I tried to concentrate at school, my mind kept wandering back to the meeting and the promise of three more Saturdays. I tried to imaging what I was going to see next. Most of the time I was so far away that I got into lots of trouble with my teacher. She made me come to see her after class on Wednesday to give me a lecture on the importance of keeping up with the work. I made a determined effort on Thursday and she smiled at me as I left the class, but I got scolded again today. It’s so hard to focus on boring stuff, when, just around the corner is a wonderful experience just waiting to be had. When, I got into bed last night, I was so excited that it took me ages to get to sleep. And I woke up this morning as soon as it started to get light and the birds’ dawn chorus began. I was out of bed and dressed in no time and rushed straight to the place where Lara helped the little bird. Now I’m sitting under that bush, waiting, impatiently, for Lara to appear.
It seems like forever. I’m fidgeting and craning my neck, trying to watch every direction, including up and down. Then suddenly the golden glow pops into my vision, not more than a meter away, straight in front of me.
“And so we meet again, Tony,” pipes the familiar tinkling voice. “Have you been waiting long?”
“Ever so long,” I reply. “I was beginning to get frightened that you weren’t coming.”
“Oh I wouldn’t just not come,” replied the little voice, merrily. “After all a promise is a promise and we fairies never break a promise.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound crabby,” I said. “But, I’ve been looking forward a lot to seeing you again.”
“That’s good. That’s very good,” she replied, musically. “Now for your first surprise. I’d like you to meet my husband, Mark. He’s one of our best hunters and he knows where everything is.”
“I can’t see him,” I blurted, anxiously.
“Don’t worry, he’s just a little shy of humans. He’s standing right behind me.”
Lara stepped to the left and left Mark directly in front of my eyes.
“Good morning, Mark,” I say formally, trying to put the tiny hunter at his ease. He’s a bit taller than Lara and well built in a miniature sort of way. Through the glow he looks handsome and quite dashing, with his bow in his hand and his quiver over his shoulder.
He cocks his head, like a little bird and studies me, up and down and round-about. Then he finally speaks.
“Good morning, Tony. You are large, even for a human child of your age.”
His voice tinkles like Lara’s but is pitched a little lower. He looks at me some more.
“Are you clumsy?” he asks.
“Not very. Why?” I reply.
“I just don’t want to get stomped on,” he chirps, with a more relaxed grin.
“Can you climb?” he probes.
“Pretty well, I think,” I answer, proudly. “I’ve been up every single tree in this garden.”
“But can you climb, without making a single sound?” he presses.
“I will try very hard.”
“Good. Follow us.”
Two little golden glows rise into the air and head for the sycamore tree, where I saw the kestrel. I follow, my anticipation at fever pitch. We reach the trunk. The two glows hover before my face.
“We are going to visit the family of the kestrel you saw last week-end, explains Lara. “Stay close to us. We will show you the best hand and foot holds.”
My mind buzzes with surprise. Never, in my wildest dreams, had I imagined that the kestrels would nest in my garden. I concentrated fiercely, trying to move as silently as a Red Indian scout and putting my hands and feet exactly where Lara and Mark were indicating. Slowly and surely we climbed until we reached a fork close to the top.
“Sit in the fork,” instructed Mark. “And look down to the left of your shoulder.”
I got comfortable and followed the command. It took a moment for me to see the nest because of the leaves, but I found it quickly, once I saw was the white fluffy down of the chicks, which had some buffy grey starting to intrude. I recognized the nest as belonging to a crow that I’d watched from below last year. After last week I’d researched kestrels to know more if the dad came back so I could see from the color change of the down that the chicks were about to get their first full plumage. That meant that the three of them were about four weeks old. I got out my phone and clicked away happily. Just then the male arrived with a mouse. He tore it into pieces, alternately feeding his family. As he flew off the female landed and repeated the ritual. She’d managed to catch a rather larger rat. I was fully absorbed watching and taking pictures, when Lara whispered in my ear.
“We must go now. There is one more thing we have to show you before we have to leave.”
I was disappointed because the kestrels’ nest was one of the most awesome things I’d ever seen, but I followed dutifully. We reached the ground with no difficulties and I looked at the two fairies expectantly.
“What would you most like to see now?” tinkled Lara, mischievously.
I thought for only a second.
“I’ve been worried about the baby sparrow you helped. I’d like to see if it’s OK.”
“I knew it,” said Lara, in her tiny voice that was filled with joy. “Nature lovers like you always want to know about animals and birds that were ill or injured. Look over at the low branches on the right of the horse chestnut tree.”
My eyes are irresistibly drawn and immediately I see three little shapes. I creep silently closer until I can clearly make out the sparrow family. Junior is in the middle and looks really perky. Mom is drowsy and dad is making a racket of chirps as he boasts to the world. He makes me smile. The baby sees the glowing fairies and takes off faultlessly, coming straight to them. They land on the ground and he lands next to them. They caress his feathers and introduce him to me. The little fellow allows me to stroke him also. Then mom calls and the moment is broken. The baby rejoins his family and they all fly off. I watch his strong and confident flight and know he is fit and well.
I look to Lara and Max. “Everything was fantastic. Thank you. It was the best Saturday ever.”
“We’re happy that you are happy,” replied Lara. “See you next week.”