Lynne MacLean

Of Jewels and Birds

A single ray of sun pierces the tree leaves and finds the flies. Against the shade-dappled backdrop, suspended within a deciduous cave, the tiny golden insects hang, sparkling, then dance away. They vanish, illusory, only to zoom back, flitting, pausing, glowing.

A small bird dives and cuts a swath through the insects. They re-form glittering ranks around the space left by their missing fellows, again zipping and hovering. Afternoon jewels. The cicadas hum.

I spend the hot afternoon on the shaded deck watching them, gently rocking the sleeping baby’s cradle with my foot. Exhausted. I look down at my son’s perfect, peaceful, newborn face. Four miscarriages to get him here.

“Isn’t he a wonder?” I ask my late mother. She doesn’t answer. Of course. I glance at the baby again. He’s still sleeping a soft, twitching sleep. The breeze flutters over and past us. “All I know, Mum, is every time you tried to kill yourself... (a serious try, not one of the little ones, I could handle those in my sleep)… each time, I lost a baby. Then you died. Two years to the day, to that precise date, he arrived.”

The breeze returns, sighs through us, and is gone.

The hum of the cicadas rises. Diverted, I lean back, watching the darting brilliance of the flies, and wait for the bird to return.

Lynne MacLean is a married mother of two and a Research Advisor in the fields of public and community health at the University of Ottawa. She has been writing fiction for seven years and her work has been published in Tesseracts Fifteen, Lorelei Signal, Mystic Signals, and MicroHorror. She won an honourable mention in the Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writers Grant competition for 2010.