Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Forty Five

This was written directly to the story board, and does not appear in the Babble Chat log.

Sebastian had spent a miserable night, curled up under the rock.

The noises of the forest around him kept disturbing him, and when he did fall asleep, he kept seeing his grandfather falling under the cart.

Over and over, hearing the cries of the workers -- his cousins, his father --

Feeling the void as everyone's attention turned to little Nan and Grampy. Even the birds in the bushes and trees had gone silent.

He had run, faster than ever, back to the house, hiding in the tool shed until he saw his mother dash from the back door still in her apron covered in flour from the baking, followed by Daniel, carrying her emergency bag that always hung by the door.

He watched at the back window until he saw Inga step into the pantry for something, then swiftly glided across the kitchen avoiding the three squeaky boards and up the stairs (staying to the wall side so they wouldn't creak) to his room. On the way past the table, he snagged a meat pie which had burned his fingers and a loaf of bread. He hoped Inga wouldn't notice, but he was still hungry.

Once in his room, he collected what he thought he would need. A small knife, a rucksack to hold things, the warm sweater his mother had given him for his birthday this year, a good hat and his wallet. He checked the wallet. There wasn't much in it, but he figured it would get him something to eat if he needed.

He considered lying down and taking a nap, but decided it might be too risky, so he tiptoed across the hall to the room that looked toward the road and slipped out onto the roof of the porch. He nearly slipped a couple times, and had to catch himself on the shutter hooks, but he made it to the edge and lowered himself down by the drainpipe -- to the railing, and then to the ground.

Already, he could hear a commotion approaching the house, and he ran, somewhat clumsily, across the road and hid in the hedgerow, watching the house, letting the dust drift off... trying to be inconspicuous though the little wrens and huthatches were shrilly informing each other of his presence.

Finally assured the coast was clear, he walked along the back of the hedgerow, avoiding the numerous hornet nests, and the few traps he and his brother had set for rabbits the day before. A rabbit was caught in one trap, but Sebastian quickly realized he had forgotten to bring anything to build a fire or cook with, so he set it free.

He knew that his father would look for him, and that the workers would be on the lookout too, as they went home, so he stopped every so often to listen, and waited for people and wagons to pass before moving on.

Progress was slow, but as it grew dark, he had gone under the bridge at the edge of his family's farm and waded up the creek until he reached the edge of the forest. Already some of the trees and shrubs were losing their leaves, and the cover was poor at the margins, but he quickly moved along the animal trails and soon found himself climbing as the relatively flat terrain around the village gave way to rocks and boulders.

When he looked up, he invariably saw a large black bird or two watching his progress; flying, walking, or sitting on a snag, it seemed they were intent on knowing what he was up to.

As it grew dark, and colder, he had found shelter that didn't look too recently occupied, and had set about making a simple bed of evergreen branches. Too late, he realized his small knife was inadequate for most tasks, and he thought about the hatchet he had nearly sat on in the tool shed.

In tears, he sat on the few branches he had been able to rip off smaller trees, and looked out while he finished his meat pie.

There, perched on a rock across from the overhang was yet another black bird with piercing eyes and unwavering gaze.

"What!" shrieked Sebastian, forgetting that he was trying to be unnoticed, "Why are you following me? Go away!"

And he flung himself down on the branches sobbing.

The bird watched until he fell asleep, then glided off on its satin wings.