Picture it and Write: Sanctuary

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermila’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy!

Sanctuary:

In the fields and forests were I grew up, many birds overwinter in the cold snow-filled months. We would often go hunting them since they made a much needed addition to our dinner plates in the winter. We would travel from farm to farm in search of our quarry but no matter how many birds we saw there we never went onto Caleb Morris’ land, that place was forbidden.

Caleb had moved into his place some ten years before I was born. No one knew were he came from. He certainly never had any connection with the area. But people found that there was a certain menace about him that meant you did not want to ask him questions. It didn’t matter much though, he rarely left his land except for shopping once a week. He didn’t bother us and the rest of us knew enough to leave him alone.

There is always one though and one early January morning Young James Harris and Johnny O’Brien were out hunting when they saw a flock of birds in the sky over Caleb’s land. They knew it was his shopping day and they couldn’t resist trying to bag a couple for the pot.

They crossed the boundary fence and made there way through thick bushes towards the open field in the center of the property. When they finally made it to the edge of the field they were amazed by what they saw.

There were hundreds, no thousands of birds in the field. There were pigeons, crows, ducks, geese, many that they couldn’t identify. There was endless chatter, the field was full of life. Seeing that both James and Johnny grabbed their rifles, took aim, and fired.

There was a loud report and both could clearly see their bullets hit a bird each. But oddly none of the other birds scattered. Instead; they just stood there. James and Johnny were still puzzling over that when they saw movement at the edge of the field. It was Caleb; back from the town.

The two young men lay down, frozen, awaiting what would happen next. Caleb advanced across the snow, his white Labrador keeping pace behind him. As he walked the birds around him lifted off into the air in a wave of flapping that swept across the whole field.

With thousands of birds circling in the air, Caleb came to a stop in front of the spot where the two fallen birds lay. As if on some unspoken signal, the birds started to fall down on the two carcasses. They heaped down on they, every inch of snowy ground covered with birds. There they stood for what only could have been a few seconds but to the two watchers seemed like hours. Then Caleb raised his hands.

The birds began to rise again, every single one into the sky. Leaving; nothing.

Both young men were aghast. There wasn’t even a blood stain on the white snow. What had been two dead birds must have rejoined their brothers and sisters in the skies above. They looked at other then up into the air and finally right into the face of Caleb, looking straight at them.

They didn’t need to think twice. They fled without looking behind them. They ran until they were well out of Caleb’s land and safe back in their own houses.       

From then on. There was no mystery why the birds came in the winter. In Caleb’s land they found sanctuary. A haven from those who would try and kill them. A haven, from death itself.

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