They progressed in silence. Ellen leaned back into her brace and tried to shut out Müther’s resentment.
Almost as if to give her a focus for more pleasant thoughts, a snow falcon appeared above them.
The bird’s black-tipped, long and narrow wings jutted out stiffly from her heavy body as she rode a thermal higher and higher until she was almost out of sight. Ellen was about to look away when she noted the wings suddenly work in a series of quick, shallow thrusts, increasing the raptor’s speed as she completed a circle overhead before settling into a long, fast, shallow glide, stiffened wings slightly raked. Suddenly, the falcon plunged, plummeted a hundred metres to the ground, disappeared behind a pile of boulders and appeared again seconds later with a mouse hanging limply from her talons.
It was not the first time Ellen had seen snow falcons hunt.
Black tips that trace the speed
Bringing doom with each repeat
White gracing lines in the air…
The lines played into her mind. She toyed with them, juggling them for the best cadence. Perhaps it depended on what the fourth line was: dare, care, fare, spare, lair, pair – which word for the fourth line, she mused.
“Kek, kek, kek, kek, wheeeeee.” The falcon’s call was distant but distinct. Müther sat up straighter, turning her face in the direction of the sound. Rosa, too, turned to look at the disappearing falcon, though Ellen did not doubt that Rosa had been watching the falcon’s every move.
“Is it coming nearer?”
“No. It just killed a mouse and is probably taking it back to its young.”
“Did you see him make the kill?”
It was a ‘her’, thought Ellen, but she replied: “Yes”.
Müther opened her mouth to ask another question but closed it again, turning her face forward.
I can tell you about these birds, thought Ellen to the back of Müther’s head. I can describe how they hunt and where they nest and how they feed their young. I can tell you they are the only bird of prey on Si’Empra, apart from two owl species that have adapted to this island. I can tell you that they stay inland because the migrating skuas and gulls chase them away on the coastal areas. She pursed her lips. I bet you want to know. Why do you hold me away so much?
Ellen wrinkled her nose. Well, she reasoned, perhaps the supposed accident had been manufactured and something had happened that was somehow connected to herself – though how that could be, she did not know. The Songbird had disappeared before she was even born.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish