The whistling winds- Mike McGuire

A multitude of birds sang as the oak trees rustled in the whistling morning winds. Teddy sat on the wooden park bench and watched as the pink crested robins invaded a nearby mulberry tree. Teddy cupped his shivering hands around his favourite mug, a gift from his granddaughter. She moulded it for him in her pottery class. He liked the tribal-like markings she’d painted on the dark blue mug. She put a unique squiggle on it, depicting a wiry, curvy figure. It appeared to move side to side down like a slithering snake. “Just like her,” he thought, “Bouncing around, always jolly, gracing us with her delightful spirit.” Teddy removed his glasses and ran a tissue around his eyes. He hoisted it up, arms outstretched, as a rare beam of sunlight commanded the wind to be still – so Teddy could admire the illuminated mug. A well-dressed man plonked himself on the bench next to Teddy. He, too, had a mug. He sipped the steamy beverage as he observed the chattering birds.

“A gift from my granddaughter,” he tells Teddy, eyes still focused straight ahead. “No way! Me too,” Teddy says, lifting up his mug.

They turn and face each other with a smile and clink their mugs together. “Thank God for granddaughters!” they beam in unison.

As they lean in to clink mugs again, – a large commotion unfolds in the grey skies above them. The pink crested robins cry out in anguish, as a larger faster bird of prey snatches at them and captures one of their smallest. It wraps its strong fat claws around the tiny robin’s body and whisks it away high into the sky, until it disappears from sight. The robin’s last piercing shrieks drift down from the sky, and echo out among the tree-tops. “Brutal isn’t it? Nature is so evil,” the white man says to Teddy.

“I disagree,” Teddy says. “Do I find it scary? Yes, and sad for that little bird. But I don’t accuse the bigger bird of being evil, it was only chasing a meal. It swooped out of necessity. It probably has little ones to feed and a partner to keep safe.”

The white man stares at Teddy, mouth wide-open, eye brows raised.

Teddy picks up on the man’s judgemental gaze, “Last week, my granddaughter was walking through this very park, and was gunned down by a white policeman. That robin didn’t deserve to die but neither did my granddaughter.”

“What on earth did your granddaughter do?” Silence.

Teddy shakes his head and again runs a tissue over his cheeks.

“She was the most loving person you’d ever meet – Mistaken identity. It’s what happens when hateful people are handed all the power in the world to do as they please.”

The men sit in silence, hands hugging the mugs which rest over their hearts.

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