I miss the clouds. Up there the perspective is all encompassing. Lives make sense. Even the loss of lives is part of a pattern that is more easily discernible from above.
I am earthbound now with clipped wings, but I still have certain powers even in this continent of trees that flower red and purple, crows that sound like they are dying and the bluest skies I have ever seen.
It’s hard to wonder what it all must have looked like from the clouds that day in 1938. Thousands of people on Bondi beach, a hot afternoon and then several massive waves that came in to shore without respite, taking a sandbank and hundreds of people with them.
How many reel lines went out through the broiling surf; how many lifesavers crested white water; how many swimmers were dragged to shore and resuscitated? I couldn’t count in all the turmoil but I knew five of my kind were waiting, for five that wouldn’t be saved.
I found one of the victims near the channel, determined to keep him earthbound and breathing amidst all the panic; wings beating and patience that could last centuries was hovering nearby whilst a human chain kept the crowds back from the dozens lying unconscious on the sand.
When I got close to him – only young, perhaps twenty years old – I knew immediately that there was nothing I could do. His blue eyes opened briefly. I smiled at him and held his hand until his grip loosened and clouds were reflected in his eyes. A lifeguard pushed me away but then said, “He was gone earlier. I didn’t get a chance to cover him.”
“I know,” I told him, to make things easier. Not worth saying he had come back for just a moment.
And what was the point of that, the winged messenger asked, softer than any question ever asked on earth.
“Thirty seconds of peace I hope. More than anything you will ever understand.” I watched all five gather the souls of their charges. They rose up and we were left behind – I and the multitude on the beach.
I am the author of Tomaree and Crossing Paths. I love to write fiction set in the first half of the last century, particularly little known events of both world wars. I also write poetry and have performed my poems in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Newcastle.
Photo by Pixel2013
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