From the Nest

Mother called. The child froze, drew her hand back from the nest of baby birds, red beaks agape for food. She jumped down from the tree branch, ran along the fern-dappled path to home, and was a long time getting there. Almost a year.

The police, neighbor, and media fuss had long faded for the mother when the daughter returned. Spurned hope, shock gave way to frantic joy as she walked in the back door. But the girl was cold, hair gone white, eyes old with terror. After a year of scratches, rage, self-destruction and tears, her mournful mother gave up hope again, consigning the insane girl to professional care.

Amid soft walls, hospital disinfectant and the stink of piss and fear, a wretch that had been a cheerful child rocked slowly in a stained corner. Above her, two tentacled shadows appeared. She screeched, scrambled to escape the horrors that had stolen her away on that fern-lined path long ago.

The larger shadow spoke to the smaller. “See? I told you its mom wouldn’t take it back if you picked it up!”

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