'Pigeon-like' by Sal page
The day after the birds fell, Dad disappeared into his shed. All the birds had fallen from the sky, crashing through tree branches or washing up on the shoreline. Nests of babies tumbled to the ground. Parrots toppled off perches.
Next morning, in the half-light of the eerily quiet garden, we passed Dad the things he asked for. Books, laptop, soldering iron, mature cheddar and crackers, wooden spoons, wire and double-sided tape in three colours.
Later, a lorry came round to shovel up the limp bodies, hundreds in our street alone. We watched television footage of the fires, listened to experts talk and heard of whole battery farms full of chickens being declared unfit for consumption.
We got used to our new life; Dad in the shed and us indoors keeping everything going and getting him what he needed. Bottle tops, paperclips, fruit and nut chocolate, coat-hangers, milk and tiny springs. Strange smells wafted from the shed. I once heard him swear but he was whistling again an hour later.
After eight months he asked us to buy a 3D printer. Mum sold her diamond ring and Dad’s motorbike and arranged more shifts at work. I took over the cooking and cleaning at home. We lugged bags of grey plastic chips to the shed door. Pots of iridescent paints, brushes, bananas and black shiny beads.
The day came. A year after the birds fell. Me and Mum in the garden, Mum holding a cake covered with flamingo-pink icing. The skylight sprang open. Thirty pigeons flew up and out. They flapped and we clapped and cheered. We watched them fly as far as the allotments and over the by-pass.
Soon they returned, gathering around as I knelt to feed them tiny green plastic beads. I laughed as they nudged each other, all fluttering wings and shining eyes. Each one, despite being extremely pigeon-like, reminded me of Dad.
Screwing his eyes up against the light, Dad stepped from the shed. His bushy beard had pieces of cracker in. He looked exhausted but very pleased with himself.
‘They’re brilliant, Dad. Can you do a Peacock next?’
Dad grinned and handed me an egg.