My mum hummed a tune as she washed the tea cups “Are you going to stay for your Sunday dinner Lucy?” she asked hopefully.
“I’d love to, but I think I’d better get back home. I don’t feel great. I’ll come to church with you next week, and maybe we can go and have a nice pub lunch somewhere.”
“Yes I’d like that.” my mum said and then frowned, “Is there something you’re not telling me? You seem edgy. Are you still taking pain killers after your car accident. I’ve heard people get addicted to those things,”
“I’m fine mum, honest. I’m just stressed with work, and I won’t lie, I miss dad. I still feel responsible for his death. He was on his way to see me when he died.”
My mum hugged me. “It wasn’t your fault. He should have stopped smoking years ago. Cigarettes killed him, nothing else.” Thunder rumbled in the distance and the sky turned a nasty charcoal grey. “Let me call a cab, I don’t want you driving me home, this storm looks like it could get nasty.” I said.
“Don’t be so silly, I can have you home in five minutes,” my mum insisted grabbing her car keys. “Was that Jeff I saw you talking too outside the church?” she asked.
“Yes it was, you never liked him did you?”
“I didn’t dislike him, I just thought he was strange. Didn’t he used to be a hippy? I think he took drugs too.”
I laughed “Yes mum, I suppose he was a bit of a hippy, it was the fashion. I think everyone took drugs in the seventies”
“Does he still carry bones in his…………..”
“Mam look out”
Lightning hit a tree ahead of us and it crashed to the ground, blocking the road. My mum slammed on the break and I grabbed the steering wheel, yanking it to the right. The car skidded to a halt. We sat still for a few seconds in shock, knowing we had narrowly escaped death. A dark winged shape perched on the wall by the fallen tree. It was little more than a shadow. Did my mum see it too?
Her hands gripped the steering wheel as though her life depended on it. She stared straight ahead, a terrified look on her face. “Mam are you alright?.”
“I’m going to drive us home,” I said.
She neither moved or spoke. Did she see the dark shape on the wall. I followed the direction of her gaze, but angel of death was gone. Gently I prized my mum’s fingers from the steering wheel before getting out of the car and walking to the driver’s side. Taking her hand I gently helped out of the car and guided her to the passenger seat. “I’m going to take you home and make a nice cup of sweet tea, you’ve had a nasty shock.”
As I drove away I looked in the rearview mirror at the log blocking the road. Did I see a shadow again?
Dear God don’t let it hurt anyone else.
“Did you see that big bird?” my mum asked.
“What big bird I asked,” apprehensively.
“The big dark bird on the wall, I saw one just like it at the bottom of the garden this morning, I wonder what it is.”
The rain began to fall heavily as we drove home and I was glad. It blocked the images I didn’t want to look at.