When she noticed the child, she again breathed hope.
The girl was alone in a cloud of pigeons. Be friendly, she reminded herself, trying to relax.
Wings clattered as she approached. She offered the toddler her most open smile.
“I’m Marie,” she said. “Wow, it’s hot today! Would you like an ice cream?”
Cool grey eyes appraised her, then looked away.
“Come on,” Marie entreated. “A nice lolly, perhaps?”
A shake of the head and continuing silence.
Marie dropped into a crouch. “Look, little one, your mummy asked me to come and get you.” She doesn’t love you. How could she, when she’s left you all alone in a sea of strangers?
The child continued picking at the gravel. She’s ignoring me. Fire rose through Marie’s blood, along with an uncontrollable urge to scream.
Forcing herself to unclench her fists, Marie murmured, “I want to take care of you. Won’t you let me?”
“You’re not my mummy,” the child explained gently without looking at her.
“But I want to be,” Marie confessed. “I so want to have a little girl like you.”
At that, the toddler gave Marie her full attention. “You can’t.”
“Please….” Marie choked out a sob. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
A small, pudgy hand reached for Marie’s. As her hand met the child’s, Marie realised her own flesh appeared undefined, pellucid.
The toddler’s eyes were bright with compassion. “It’s time for you to go now. I’m sorry.”
As Marie’s transparent form faded, the pigeons returned.
Story © Joanna Gawn – originally written for a flash fiction competition (250 words)
Image © M Bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net