The swallow - a short story by demie
There were children playing, like everyday, by the road in front of the church. They raced up and down the street, laughing. She looked at them over her book and smiled slyly. Suddenly she stood up and hurried towards them.
" Shall we play together? Shall we? Shall we?" asked Lemonia with anticipation.
It wasn't often she would play with them. She was usually too busy working at the café or when she didn't do that, she would be too busy hiding her face inside her book. The neighborhood kids loved her. She had a way with them. Sometimes she would call them my little people. Sometimes she would take them to see the dew on the leafs early in the morning and tell them are made from fairy footsteps. Sometimes she would come out of the café, put her arms in her hips and just look at them with that look of hers, and they would know immediately they had to keep quiet.
They started playing football with a lemon they got from the grocery shop at the corner. The man, who worked there, was a young funny guy who always came up with witty comments. - She used to write them down. Like that time; was it last summer? When the quirky, acidic and hypochondriacal case of a human being, the pub owner, went into the store and started to knock the watermelons (an old-fashioned way to see if they are good). They were lying on the floor, the one beside the other, in a row. The grocery boy observed him for a while and then he said: Don't bother to knock , dear friend. Nobody 's home. Too hot today and everyone's headed to the beach…
That day she was playing football with a lemon, it blew a bit. Lilac flowers, from the church garden, flew about in the air, and left their scent fill the small streets. The lemon rolled down the street and five kids, together with her, run after it to retrieve it. Lemonia was faster. She was running with her small legs and her pink skirt waving franticly. "Run! Run Lemoniá! Catch the Lemon!" she cried loud without thinking the statements paradox. 'Cause Lemonia means Lemon Tree, and at that place, girls could be named that. The girl kept running but then, she stopped abruptly. "Look!Look!" she said with a voice that sounded like a terrified scream, while pointing downwards with her wee finger.
Everybody was looking at the baby swallow now, as it laid on the ground. It was still alive. She took it in her hands, with a tender, gentle way, so unusual to her abrupt manners, and looked up. The nest was quite high. Just below the window hedge -where swallow nests tend to be. People came to see. The attraction. The guy from the clothing shop, the old lady who cleaned the church in the mornings, Lemonia's mother, who cried now and needed some comfort. Even the pub owner appeared from nowhere. The grocery boy came carrying a ladder. And she, without hesitation, climbed up holding the little bird inside her palm. She could hear them on her way up. That quirky fellow, said that there was no point in all this fuss. She heard the sound of a match that must have lit his cigarette. Exactly then, she realized it was impossible. The ladder was not long enough. She stretched out as much as she could and left the bird by the window edge. Maybe a meter below the nest, perhaps less. It would be ok, she thought. That would surely help the mother to fetch it along. She thought.
On her way downwards, she turned her head up, one last time, at the same moment when the swallow mother arrived flying down the blue sky. In a second, that felt like time froze, she witnessed, just like everybody else above, the determinative and incredibly strong movement the mother swallow used, to pouch her little weak child with her wing, into the void.
There was silence. It's a funny thing with silence.
It always comes unexpected and sometimes it can be so incredibly eco-fantic.
People went slowly back to their usual daily tasks. The pub owner tok his way up the road, head inside his shoulders, hands inside his pockets. She felt like thanking him for not saying I told you so. The grocery boy went too, back to his shop, forgetting his ladder. Some of the children followed him. The phone rang in the clothing shop. Lemonia reassured her mom she was fine, and just stayed to watch, as she wrapped the dead swallow in a napkin and together they start walking towards the church garden to bury it. She had the napkin with the little bird in one hand while she hold the little girl's hand in the other. She looked sad.
" She wouldn't have it" Lemonia said quietly.
"It was not our place to interfere" she answered and gave her a little hug. Squeezing the child's head on to her thigh.
They sat down, between the lilac trees and dug a small hole in the soil.
There she dug the small dead swallow. The child insisted they had to put a cross too.
So they did.
" It looks like it might rain" she said and Lemonia made a grimace implying disappointment.
" You silly thing! That means we can look for rainbows in the evening! "
And there they sat for a while. Praying for rainbows to come.