by Katherine Tomlinson
I told my children not to feed the birds that live in the trees that shadow our house.
I warned them, but they refused to listen. They didn’t understand the peril of inviting the birds close with their beaks and claws and dangerous natures.
Like most little ones they were enchanted by all wild creatures. They had no regard for their personal safety and were as likely to pick up a venomous serpent as they were a harmless garden snake.
And so, I kept them indoors where they were safe. They could still see the birds from their windows but the birds could not peck out their eyes or strip ribbons of flesh from their fragile bones or snatch hanks of their silken hair and use it to build their nests.
I locked my children into their bedrooms for their own protection and when they kept trying to run out of their rooms when I brought them food, I stopped feeding them. They didn’t understand that I wasn’t punishing them; they didn’t comprehend my motives for keeping them away from the birds.
I’m wise to the ways of the winged ones. I can decode the sinister messages in their songs; I can translate the secret communications in their chirps and whistles. They have told me they want to claim my children.
I will not let that happen.
I will kill them first.