Gerald's Fault

Jan 2022

This was written for a writing challenge where the only
requirement was to include a barn owl somewhere in the story.

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I saw it happen. I watched it happen. The blood splatter through the long grass behind the farmhouse, scrawling death's signature. People stumbling around with their hands on their heads. Shouting. I just looked and stared. Silently.

It was almost comical.

It was the sweet smell of the death that lingered the longest. Time would clean that up too, eventually, as it loves to do with everything. Almost everything. 

I was young then, maybe nine or ten years old. I don't remember much of anything afterwards. Just what I saw. Oh, I can recall that very clearly; I had the best view of the performance! I'll tell you what happened.

It was a on our watermelon farm. I'd lived there a while, after being adopted by the farmer and his wife. It was a pretty good life at first; I'd be selfish if I complained. They had no children of their own, so the back upstairs bedroom was wasted until I claimed it. And what a view from it! The fields, the distant mountains, the forests, could all call to me uninterrupted, and I could see everything that happened below. Nothing could move without me seeing it from up there. It was perfect. 

Life was perfect. 

The house, our house, was an old two-storey farmhouse. Most of its paint had given up hanging on, tired from seeing more sun than it should over the years. The big old tree outside the bedroom window was as high as the house, even higher maybe. Its branches screeched against the window when the wind was wet and angry. Screee-scraaw, screee-scraaw… a soothing sound. And it was easy to climb from the window ledge into the tree's protective arms, so I'd sit in it for hours. I'd watch the world turn under the clouds, see everything being still, waiting for change. But time was rightly in no hurry to bring it. Even the tree knew that. I loved that tree. It was all mine. No one else's.

Then in the blackness of one violently stormy night, they had a kid of their own. Gerald. He was useless at first, they had to do everything for him, and I could tell he loved stealing all the attention. But he stayed away from me, so I stayed away from him. A few more happy years passed before Gerald moved into my room.

Some might say it was his fault, 'He shouldn't have been sleeping there in the long grass,’ they'd say. 'Just an accident… you can't blame yourself.' I heard people say that often. But he wasn't sleeping. Not really. I know he wasn't. I know what really happened, and I felt nothing. I made no sound, I just watched. But it was still his fault.

It happened the same year a....

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