Printed from WriteWords -

Beyond Blue 6

by  Freebird

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010
Word Count: 1321
Summary: formatting has come out a bit dodgy - just ignore strange indents or lack of!
Related Works: Beyond Blue • Beyond Blue 1 • Beyond Blue 2 • Beyond Blue 3 • Beyond Blue 4 • Beyond Blue 5 • 


Something clattered against the glass, like twigs popping in a bonfire. Andrew lifted the edge of the curtain just as a handful of gravel spattered onto the window. He lifted the curtain further and peered into the back garden. He still couldn’t see anything, but he could hear a low chirruping, squabbling sound like the distant sea.
A shadow sprang up in the centre of the lawn. The security light flashed on and there, in the midst of an ocean of sparrows, tits, finches and other small birds, stood Natty Parkinson.
Anger and relief surged through Andrew, leaving his knees weak and his hands trembly. He opened the tiny rectangular window again and knelt on the windowsill so that his mouth was level with the open window. The owl in the tree swivelled its head and stared.
“What are you doing?” hissed Andrew. “Get lost! Get rid of these birds. It’s creepy.”
“Not as creepy as the castle, hey?” Natty grinned.
“It was you, wasn’t it? Scaring the living daylights out of me.”
Natty burst out laughing. “It’s not difficult. You’re as jumpy as a grasshopper.”
“What do you expect? You creep around the place, follow me home and then stand in my garden in the middle of the night with a bunch of birds. You are totally weird. Go away.”
“But I want to show you something,” Natty whined.
She reminded Andrew of Tara when she wanted her own way. They must be a similar age. Tara was seven now – or didn’t it count if you were unconscious and missed your own birthday? Missed half a year of your life.
“Get rid of the birds,” repeated Andrew, wishing the window would open wider so he could poke his whole head out. “They freak me out.”
“Why? They’re not doing any harm.”
“They just do, that’s all. Get rid of them or I’m going to shut the window and go back to bed.”
Natty stood still for a moment, staring up at Andrew. Her eyes were dark pools against her white skin. She was wearing the blue dress again. The colour reminded Andrew of something, but he couldn’t think what. At last, Natty lifted her hands and turned in a slow, deliberate circle, keeping her dainty bare feet within the tiny space of grass that was clear of birds. She whispered something that Andrew didn’t catch – a snatch of a song, a murmured persuasion. The birds on the wall stirred, stretched their wings and rose in a great cloud. They flapped away with a beating whoosh, ragged pieces of the night sky ripped out and tossed onto the breeze. The small birds on the lawn followed, row by row, rippling up off the ground in waves.
At last Natty stood alone on the lawn.
“And the owl,” said Andrew.
Natty shook her head. “He stays.”
The owl blinked at Andrew, then settled its head deeper into the ruff of feathers round its neck.
Andrew sighed. “What do you want to show me?”
“Not now. Tomorrow.”
“What is it?”
Natty stuck out her tongue. “Wait and see. Meet me at the castle in the morning. Near the gate.”
“No more tricks?”
Natty smiled. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Andrew’s bedroom light flashed on. Blinded by the glare, he pressed his hands against his eyes.
“What’s going on?” demanded Aunty Jackie. “Who are you talking to?” She jerked the curtains wide open and looked past Andrew to where Natty stood on the lawn below. Natty didn’t wait; she hared across the lawn, scrambled over the wall and raced away down the lane towards the village.
Aunty Jackie clicked her tongue. “Such a shame. She’s a sweet enough lass, in her own way. Best not to get involved.”
“I wasn’t planning to,” said Andrew. He had enough on his mind without tangling with a crazy girl. Suddenly he missed Tara so much it was like a great hole had opened up in his belly. He wanted to run all the way to the hospital and shake her, shout at her. He wanted her to wake up, to smile at him and tell him a stupid joke.
Most of all, he wanted her to forgive him.

“You want to go the castle again?” Aunty Jackie looked up from the TV guide. “Why? I know there’s not much to do here, but I’m sure I can come up with something.”
Andrew thought. He certainly didn’t want to see Natty, he told himself. If he did, he wouldn’t speak to her.
“The butterflies,” he said. “I want to see the butterflies again. There were some that I’ve never seen before.”
Aunty Jackie looked doubtful. “I don’t think it’s a good idea...”
“Please. I’m thinking about starting my collection again.”
“Really?” Aunty Jackie’s face lit up. “That’s a good sign. Taking an interest in things again.”
“So can I go?”
“No more silly ideas?”
“Come on.” Andrew forced a laugh. “It was only that loony girl. I know that now.”
Aunty Jackie nodded. “I’d better come with you, all the same.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll just take a notebook and make some drawings. Then I might wander round the gardens and see what insects I can spot.”
Aunty Jackie nodded eagerly. She picked up a pen and began to plan her day’s viewing.

Andrew had barely stepped inside the gates of Castle Rookholm when Natty jumped out from behind a tree.
“Go away,” said Andrew, flapping his notebook at her.
“Make me.” Natty folded her thin arms and leaned back against the tree. She pursed her lips and gave a tiny whistle; a wren hopped out of a pile of logs and gave an answering peep.
“How do you do that?” Andrew swatted away a bee that seemed intent on nesting in his hair. “Get lost, you stupid thing.”
Natty raised her eyebrows.
“Not you,” said Andrew, ducking his head as another bee droned in his ear.
“So now you don’t want me to go away? Not much good at making up your mind, are you?” The wren fluttered onto Natty’s shoulder. She cocked her head as if she was listening, then smiled and nodded. “Hey, boy?”
“My name’s Andrew, not boy.”
Natty shrugged. “So do you want to see my secret or not?”
Andrew shook his head. “I’m busy, looking for insects.”
“Looks like you’ve found some.” Natty nodded at the cluster of bees that were swarming round Andrew. “Or rather, they’ve found you!”
“Can you just give me a hand....” began Andrew, gingerly wiping off the bees that had settled on his coat. But Natty was gone, tripping through the long grass and scattering showers of glinting drops as she went.
A thick bolus of panic clogged Andrew’s throat. He had been stung by a bee before, and his leg had swollen to the size of a balloon. If this was a swarm, there could be twenty-thousand bees arriving within minutes.
There were bees all over his chest now, waggling their pulsing bodies and brushing his throat with their feathery feet. He could feel the vibration of their buzzing as it mingled with his frantic heartbeat and filled his head with a persistent hum like a badly tuned radio. The pulsing took shape and formed the patterns of words in his mind, but before he could catch them and pin them down, they leapt and changed.
Andrew ran, clawing the bees from his body and beating them away. “Natty, wait!” He glimpsed a flash of blue among the trees ahead of him and followed, blundering through the grass, tripping over hidden rocks and scraping his shins on branches. The trees thinned ahead, a crumpled patch of blue staining the sky beyond. “Natty!” he shouted again.
Natty turned. She raised a hand and smiled. Then she launched herself into the air, blue against blue, and plummeted over the edge of a cliff.