Part 2 of Amy Short’s family drama ‘Where There Is A Will, There Is A War.
The Wild Swans
“‘Church bells rang out, and the air was filled with flying birds. What a joyous parade it was back to the palace! No King could command anything so fine.’ The End.” Richard concluded.
The small child had her hand wrapped around his wrist, nose screwed up and her breath lightly filling the room. Richard shut the book closed and placed it on her bedside table, stroking her face whilst gently pulling himself away. He left the room and joined his cousin in the kitchen, accepting the large glass of red.
“She’s a goner, out like a light.”
“Thank God for that, I thought she’d never sleep again, thanks for coming over.”
Richard smiled at Jess, his assistance happy to be given. His friendship with Jess stemmed from childhood. She was his cousin from the other side of the family, the more relaxed and calm relatives he had. You’d never see them arguing at a funeral.
“What did you read her?”
“The Wild Swans, Hans Christian Anderson.”
“I did consider reading her something a bit more horror though, broaden the book horizons,” Richard teased.
Jess rose her eyebrows, a silent warning of what she would have done to him if he had. She remembered the stories they had been told when they were little; her older brother, James, was ten years her senior and loved leaving them with recurring nightmares.
There had been one time when the story had merged into real life, at least they thought it had. They had been told about the ghosts that haunted little children, crept into their windows and rustled the curtains. The monsters that jumped on their beds and would suffocate them. James had been severely punished once his parents found out.
“I’m going to head off, I’ve got a meeting in the morning and I can’t turn up exhausted or drunk.” Richard held up his empty glass. “I’ve only had the one, I’ll be fine to drive.”
Richard gathered his bits and kissed Jess goodbye, grabbing his car keys and making his way out of the door. He walked along the street to the gap where his car was meant to be. He looked around, the streets silent and void of any movement or knowledge of human presence. He already had to park a ten minute walk away, the roads filled with cars except from the space where his had been when he left it an hour ago.
He glanced at his phone, no signal. He sighed and began to walk back to Jess’.
Outside, the wind howled around him, the leaves bustling in the crisp air. The street lamps flickered, the intensity of the night increasing and haunting feeling causing him to wrap his jacket further around his frame.
A voice stopped him in his path, a sweet and soft voice which tickled his ears and filled his heart with bittersweet feelings.
“Richard, my darling, Richard. I’ve tried to reach out to the others but you’re the only one that will listen. You have to look after Cam, nurture him, he is a soul on a lost path.”
“Granny, he can’t be helped, he’s decided what he wants for his life. He doesn’t want to be a part of this family.”
“He does, trust me. I didn’t have time to make amends and change his path before I died. Now, you can do this for me. Persuade the others, he’s your family, your life, please, Richard.”
“I can’t promise anything,” Richard compromised. He knew that this would be a difficult task, almost the whole family resented him, his childhood riddled with lies and misdemeanours.
“Do your best, my child, fly like the wild swan you are.”
Then the wind stopped, the leaves stopped moving and the streets returned to normal. Richard looked up, the sky clear of clouds and the moon shining brightly.
He supposed he had a job to do.