It’s far past the time when I should have posted this, but the only excuse I can beg of you is that holiday time is super busy for me. Busy, but good. So please accept my apologies and enjoy November’s Story Time story, which you voted for here. The winner was Something New. Here’s an extended version:
Motley’s life was not an exciting one. The tide, sea storms, the daily catch of fish and the constant bickering with his brother Ratsy never changed. That is, until she came.
Motley had seen plenty of humans before, enough to know this one was different. She washed up with the morning tide, battered and bloodied with the tail of a fish and a screaming bundle in her arms. With what seemed like her last bit of strength she pushed the screaming bundle, a baby, onto the beach and let the tide carry her back out to sea.
This was new.
Full to bursting with his curiosity, Motley circled down and landed by the baby, which was still fussing after being dropped by its mother onto the beach. It flailed its arms wildly as Motley hopped nearer, causing him to jump back in surprise and squawk rather loudly.
“What are you on about?” Ratsy called, circling round. Motley resisted the urge to roll his eyes as his brother’s beady eyes searched the surrounding area eagerly for food. “Wot’s that?” he asked, poking his head towards the baby.
Motley couldn’t help the thrill of excitement that ran through him. Something new. “A human baby,” he answered. Ratsy perked up with interest.
“Has it got any food?”
Motley tried not to feel disappointed, but failed miserably. “No, it doesn’t, seaweed-for-brains,” he retorted childishly. But Ratsy was already moving away, his attention lost. An angry sounding cry pulled Motley’s attention back to the baby. Its face was scrunched up and turning redder by the minute. He wasn’t positive, but Motley thought this wasn’t a good sign.
Suddenly the baby let out a piercing scream that made Motley squawk in fright and fly away, his heart beating rapidly in his tiny chest. From down the beach, Ratsy cackled with laughter. Motley ducked his head, feeling embarrassed. The baby was just crying. No need to be frightened.
Carefully, Motley landed back down beside the screaming baby. Instead of being frightened, he was starting to get worried. Beside him, the baby thrashed in the sand, trying to free itself from the seaweed blanket it was wrapped in and being more frustrated by the minute.
Motley scanned the beach. What this baby needed was its mother. He looked out to sea, where all traces of what he assumed had been the child’s mother had disappeared. He decided he would find a mother instead. Awkwardly he patted the baby with his wing, which had absolutely no calming effect, and took off down the beach.
As luck would have it, not far down the beach, Motley spotted a pair of humans ambling slowly along the shore, collecting what appeared to be driftwood. What they would do with it Motley had no idea, since he knew they couldn’t eat it. Maybe they would use it to build one of their strange nests.
Gliding down towards the couple, Motley noticed they were elders. Gray hair poked out from under the woman’s floppy yellow hat, the man walked with a stoop, and wrinkles lined both their faces. He thought that it was usually younger couples who took care of children, but this was an emergency, and he recognized the couple from past mornings. Sometimes they brought bread for him and the other gulls. If that didn’t make them good people, he didn’t know what would.
He called to them and gently swooped around their heads to get their attention. The old man straightened up when he heard him and said, “Doreen, what did I tell you about feeding them gulls? Now they be following us everywhere.”
The old woman laughed. Motley liked how it made her face look younger. “Oh Logan, tis only one, and he is just saying good morning.”
The old man harrumphed in reply, but Motley spotted a trace of a smile around his mouth. Motley swooped in again. He wasn’t hungry, but he did want their attention. “We don’t have any bread for you this morning, little fella,” Logan said, shooing him away with his hand. Motley dove in again, this time nipping at Logan’s shirt and pulling at it. “Oi! Crazy bird!” cried Logan, stumbling away.
Doreen laughed and put a hand to her mouth. “I don’t think he believes you, Logan.”
“Bah, this is your fault, woman,” Logan said, but the slight smile was back in the corner of his mouth.
Motley wasn’t getting anywhere with Logan, so he swooped down and snatched Doreen’s hat right off her head. She yelped in surprise, and her hand flew to her now uncovered head. At first Motley sagged with the unfamiliar weight, but he managed to even out and slowly made his way back down the beach.
To his dismay, he saw that it had taken him much longer than he thought to find the old couple and the tide had come in almost a foot more. The water wasn’t far from the baby, who was still crying loudly. He struggled to keep the hat in his grip. Below him, he heard the old couple shouting.
“Hey! Come back here you ruffian!” shouted Logan. Doreen was laughing too hard to shout too. Instead she just ran after him, picking up her flowery skirt as she did so. Motley flew far enough so the baby was in sight, then dropped the hat, sighing in relief as he did so.
“Crazy bird!” Logan shouted, bending to retrieve the fallen hat. He shook the sand out of it, grumbling as he did so.
Doreen caught up with him, smiling bright as ever. “Oh Logan, it’s no big deal. Don’t you worry about one silly bird…” she trailed off suddenly. “What’s that? Do you hear crying, Logan?”
Logan stopped his grumbling for a moment and cocked his head, listening. “Aye, I do.” They turned together, searching for the source of the cry.
Motley watched, pleased. He hopped closer to the baby and flapped his wings to get their attention.
“Bless my soul!” Doreen exclaimed. She ran over to the baby. “Logan, it’s a baby! Oh you poor dear,” she cooed, immediately scooping the baby up from the sand. Motley hopped away, watching anxiously. Doreen rocked the child back and forth in her arms, all the while speaking softly to it. Gradually, much to Motley’s relief, the baby quieted and miraculously, gurgled happily.
Immediately Doreen’s smile returned. “Oh Logan, can we keep her?” she said imploringly. Motley thought this was an excellent idea.
Logan hesitated before answering. “We should take her into town, Doreen. Someone might be missing her, or at least know something about her.”
“But if they don’t?” Doreen pressed.
Again Logan hesitated. “We’re a bit old to be raising a child, Doreen. Especially a baby. They need special care.”
“Oh I’m sure we can manage. I take of you, don’t I?” she said cheekily, and the baby made a sound in her arms that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.
Logan narrowed his eyes, but then shrugged. “Ah, why not? Might do us some good to have some life around the house again. But only if no one claims her, mind you.”
“Of course, of course,” Doreen said happily, leaning forward to kiss her husband on the cheek. Motley looked on in approval.
“It’ll be something new,” Logan said standing closer to his wife and the baby. He couldn’t help smiling down at them.
Not far off, Motley launched himself into the sky. If birds could smile, he would be grinning. He decided he would keep an eye on the new family. His curiosity was still piqued. Something new indeed.
His brother Ratsy joined himself from below on the beach. “So,” he asked Motley in his annoyingly direct manner, “Have you got any food?”