Claire sat on the gutter beside the new bike that he grandmother had brought her brought for her 8th birthday, her hands holding up the weight of her chin while she watched the other children in the street playing a mixed-sport edition of tag. Three were on scooters, two were on foot, and three others had bikes. One of the older boys in the group, Sam, stopped his red and black BMX bike in front of Claire with so much force that he performed an unintentional skid, leaving a black mark on the road.
“You know, this is meant to be fun, right?” Sam asked sarcastically.
“It’s not my fault my parents never taught me how to ride!” Claire responded with such passion that Sam considered leaving her there on her own. Instead, he opted to show her compassion. He hopped off his bike, took off his helmet and leaned his bike against the tree behind where Claire was sitting. She was looking up at him as he made his way back in front of her.
“Has anyone ever told you about the bird method?”
Claire’s raised her eyebrows and pulled a face similar to the one she had made when her mother brought out homemade soups with names that nobody at the dinner table could pronounce.
“It’s pretty simple,” Sam said. “Here, I’ll show you.”
Although small fountains of rage bubbled underneath, Claire’s demeanour didn’t change all that much as Sam put his fingers in his mouth and produced three short, sharp and piercing whistles, each note complimenting the last. Awkward silence in the form of an unofficial staring competition occurred between the two of them for at least one minute before Claire got distracted by the sound of a single crow squawking from the tree where Samuel had parked his bike.
Claire felt the crow staring at her, and she pushed her hand down in the recently cut grass, subconsciously moving her own body away from the crow’s attention. Sam knelt down to intercept and the two of them locked eyes again, though Claire’s eyes were wider than there were a minute ago. Sam took this opportunity to say something that might calm her down. “Trust in the birds,” he said calmly. Claire swallowed and turned her head back around to face the crow. She followed the crow’s monuments with her eyes as he flew off into the sky, circling above the houses. Out of the corner of the sky, two more crows appeared. Then five and ten, possibly more. The other children had stopped playing their game at this stage and had gathered around Claire and Sam, their mouths open wide as they stared at the black mass forming above them. Once Claire could no longer keep count, she squinted her eyes and tilted her head to the ground in preparation for what was to come.
In an impressive act of synchronicity, the crows swooped down towards Claire, some using their talons to carry Claire off the ground using her T-shirt while others swooped under legs to provide support as they carried her into the sky as if she were sitting on an imaginary chariot.
Thanks to the effect of the dizzying heights, Claire struggled to make out the activity occurring below her, but it looked as though her bike was being wheeled out into the middle of the street. The crows carried her high above the houses, towards the end of the road. No longer moving forward, the crows flew from side to side until Clare was facing her bike. She could now make out that Sam and Brody were holding her bike upright but she didn’t have time to thoroughly absorb the situation before the crows started carrying Claire down towards her bike at a speed that Claire imagined would even make the sky-divers she had read about in her books nervous. She dare not close her eyes as the crows approached the bike so that she could get into position before impact.
The crows carried Claire on to the bike and the two boys let go of her bike just in time to allow her to get some control before shooting off down the street at a tremendous speed. Most of the spectators let out a chorus of “ohs” and “ahs” as Claire rocket towards the end of the road, pushed by the force of numerous energetic crows. Every time she went to lean too far one or the other, the crows would help her regain her balance.
Eventually, Claire began to slow down, her momentum giving way to the connection between the road her wheels. As a result of the fast pace upon which she had landed on the bike, everything now seemed to be happening in slow motion. Claire could think clearly while feeling the slightest wobble one way or the other and her legs and arms cooperated at the perfect rate for her to maintain the required speed to remain balanced. Claire turned her bike around at the end of the street, the crows taking this as their cue to fly off over the horizon.
Claire approached the crowd of kids whose jaws were still yet to shut, yelling, “Trust in the birds!” Before using the breaks to perform an impressive skid and coming to stop just in front of the impressed onlookers.
“Now, let’s play tag,” Claire announced, high-giving Sam as she weaved her way around the bikes and scooters and children on foot.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.