The official launch of my short story collection, Remember Me To The Bees is on Monday 31 March. Here’s a sneak preview of story four in the collection.
The Taste of Tayberries tells the story of a little girl, Deena, trying to understand the world of grown ups and make the right choice on what to do about something she’s overheard. At the beginning of the tale, her older sister’s boyfriend, Jan, gives her a pair of love birds, and this gift, what she does with the birds, and the tragedy that follows as a result, all affect her judgement when it comes to a far bigger issue.
As with all the stories in the collection, the artwork for this story is by Louise Boulter.
A short excerpt from The Taste of Tayberries
Jan puts the cage on top of the chest of drawers in Deena’s room. He shows her how to spoon seeds and small grey pellets into the food dish each day, and how to take the water bottle from the side of the cage so she can refill it from bathroom tap. When she goes to bed she covers the cage with the fabric so the lovebirds will know it’s time for sleep.
But they don’t sleep.
Snuggled up under her blanket Deena hears their murmurings, the occasional rustle and flutter. Deena can’t sleep either. What if the birds have a clutch of chicks somewhere, or some eggs that are growing gradually colder without anyone to warm them? She lies there in the darkness with worry gnawing away at her insides.
Just before dawn she climbs out of bed and goes to the cage, slips off the cover. The birds stare at her.
“It’s all right,” she whispers. “I’m going to rescue you.”
The bedroom window is stuck fast. Deena struggles with the latch, using all her strength. The birds tweet softly in alarm. At last the latch creaks back and the glass rushes up so fast Deena nearly topples out onto the inky-shadowy flagstones far below.
She hangs onto the windowframe and sucks in the dawn air, feeling her heart pound in her chest, wilder than next-door’s cat.
The sky is just beginning to turn gold where it meets the city roofs. Here and there a windowpane flares like it’s on fire.
“Look,” Deena says to the lovebirds, hauling their cage over to the windowsill. “See all that sky? It’s all for you.”
She pops open the little gilt door and waits.