The rain slanted in a violent churning way that might somewhere in another town be churning headstones up out of the ground and churning the slick messy dead up after them and into the kitchen from this necromantic rain Bobbie ran dripping just before Mum went out to get her.
Yes what’s that darling.
Look it was out there.
Oh poor darling.
It was floating away to anywhere.
It’s all right don’t cry it’s so lovely that you rescued it.
Will we find its mum.
I don’t think so baby.
Mum took the egg.
Mummy. Can I look after it.
Of course darling. That’s so lovely. Do you know what kind of bird it’s going to be?
Bobbie shook her head.
Well, it could be…
A BIG BIRD.
Or a d…?
It could be or a…
Now you have to be so careful with it darling don’t you.
We’ll put it in this little box. Now we don’t have straw but do you want to help Mummy cut some bits of string?
Dad came into the kitchen.
No. Do we need that in here? It’s dirty.
It’s fine. It’s nice and it’s lovely that she rescued it.
It’s dirty. Birds have disease.
What disease do birds have?
Bird flu. Mites and plague.
Daddy what bird do you think it will be. An ostrich.
Throw it out.
Bobbie, do you want to draw a picture of what birds you think it might be?
Do you want to go and get your pens.
Bobbie ran to get her pens because child things must be hurried.
Tell her to throw it out.
Mum held the box loosely.
It’s the disease. And it’ll shit everywhere and starve or, something will eat it or it’ll disappear.
Bobbie tumbled in with pens bunched like dynamite.
I don’t want it in here.
Dad swung the back door and left it swinging and walked off into the trees and brooks and did not come back for hours.
Mum’s loose grip upon the box was not careless but a challenge.
She hated him when she could.
Mum when will it’s going to hatch.
I don’t know but we’re looking after it and keeping it warm aren’t we?
I shouldn’t think it’ll be too long. You keep it safe next to your bed don’t you.
And keeping it warm.
They carried the eggbox back upstairs, through the kitchen and the hall and past the television room where Dad was sat in a curved botanic posture in front of the television, staring at the television, where shook black and white reel of geckos and monkeys biting each other as the rain didn’t end and slapped upon the window.
When the film had finished Dad put on his coat and exorcised his fretted reflection in the glass of the kitchen door and went out to the rain looking worried and did not come back for hours.
He often went out to the wets and woods and running waters. He would not come back for hours.
Into the half-lucid night kitchen he padded, blind in its shadow till he saw that a stooped tower of shadow had been packed and moulded out of its greater mass, and in the click of light it obtained detail and he saw that it was his wife sat in front of an empty mug and three empty cans of Coke.
You’re up very late.
She looked at him. You know I’m always up and about.
We should go back to bed.
You’re up. If you throw away that egg I’ll know it was you.
If you throw her egg away or if it disappears or goes anywhere. Don’t do it. I’ll know it was you.
Dad’s eyes went wide and oscillated, and he went upstairs to bed.
She really could hate him when she wanted.
The rain the colour of corpses continued to pool against the house and gutters and form insect lakes in amongst the roots of the trees.
Mummy mummy oh.
Bobbie came into the kitchen with the box and the egg.
Don’t fall honey, be careful. Let’s put it down.
Okay let’s be nice and quiet. And watch.
Yes it is.
The specked egg rocked tiny rocks. Bobbie laughed once and stopped and looked and did not look at anything else. A sound, a dainty flake, the unordered mosaic and rings of miniature lightning as the shell was pushed from within.
Dad had come and he stood in the kitchen doorway and looked very worried.
A little plate of shell was loosed, and fell, and the egg rocked and half of the shell fell, and it came away and the poor little thing lay on its back and took precious breaths.
Mum made it to the side of the kitchen.
Mum at the side of the kitchen vomited and it pooled in the stagnant grooves between the tiles on the floor.
Bobbie did not look away. She jumped and screamed, once, and laughed.
For fuck’s sake.
Mum took a line of weathered breaths and hunched vomit again.
MUMMY! It looks like Daddy!
It whined and had downy feathers, and its chest was tiny.
It had fingers.
Will we look after him?
It had its father’s face.
What can I feed him?
Mum turned slow on slow weak legs but spade, poker, rolling pin, ice cream scoop, cheese grater, fridge door, glass dish, were a reach away, and even that reach too far and too long, because the back door was swinging and Dad out into the rain and puddled trees, and this time he did not come back at all.
John Banning is the London Town-based writer of stories & things that have manifested in Dream Journal, Maudlin House, Rejection Letters, the Bear Creek Gazette, The Daily Drunk, and right here at Ligeia. He is, in actuality, J. F. Gleeson, under which name his work will make an appearance sometime soon in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Take a look along the dead lost beaches.