I don’t know why the sound surprised me.
At first, I thought it was only my imagination, but then, the words and melody slowly became softly tangible, as if whispered through a flute:
Rock-a-bye, baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
It must have repeated two or three times at least, when there was suddenly several strong gusts of wind, and a score of infants, each still warmly wrapped against the cold, had their cradles tipped sufficiently as to fall from them, hurtling toward the ground like overripe fruit.
I should never have done what I did next; even based on what Ian had said, a human being would fall at the same rate of speed regardless of whether a child or an infant. There’d be no way I could hit the ground first – even if I had, there’d be no way I could have caught more than a baby or two before I’d be knocked to the ground, the wind knocked out of me at the very least, more likely with a fair share of broken bones for the babies and me alike. And surely, those I didn’t catch were done for, no matter what I did. But, as fate would have it, I didn’t think – I simply jumped after them.
No sooner had I done so, however, then each baby began to drift like a falling leaf, as I continued my precipitous plunge, only to come to a similarly abrupt halt inches above the ground, then gently descend to terra firma.
The babies were drifting my way; if I timed it right, I could catch each one before it hit the ground, set it down, and be ready to do the same with the next.
Just then, however, another, warmer gust burst through the trees, lifting all the babies up, setting them back into their cradles, and leaving me alone on the ground, feeling like an idiot.
But then, the thought slowly drifted into my head that maybe the helpful, warm upward drift of wind and my jumping from the safety of my own pod to save them had some sort of causal relationship, however improbable. After all, what other business or purpose could I. as a ten-year-old. have in this nursery rhyme world but to be tested, or to perhaps learn deeper lessons than were presented on the surface?
Another line of reasoning cut in immediately, accusing the first of being incredibly conceited,
But I didn’t listen to either one. opting instead to take a road near the tree, curious to see where it might lead.
Rashmi had been fond of singing Rosalie Sorrels’ The Baby Tree, and the song seemed appropriate to shut up the warring factions of my mind. So, I sang it, as I made my way down the road.
© 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) and Walking Backward for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall are each now available from Amazon Books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is expected to be available shortly. The next novel of the series, By Good Angels Tenanted, will be available later in 2018