Polly watched as the little bird zipped through the trees in front of the car. The trees had been planted when her two children were tiny and it seemed special to her that this king of fishers was using them as camouflage to get from the pond to the river. How useful trees are for hiding in. Didn’t Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane? Or something very like it. Right now Polly was hiding her true feelings in amongst the trees in the riverside car park. She couldn’t get out of the car though. It was so warm and comforting in the late summer sun. The last time she had seen the kingfisher was when Gordon was alive. They were both so excited – together. They had driven there with a bag of pastries they had picked up at the baker’s and a bottle of very-bad-for-you fizzy. The night before, their daughter had phoned to say that she was in Virginia with a friend and, because they needed capital to set up a business venture, she needed to sell the house so would they put it on the market as soon as possible.
Polly and Gordon had lived in the cottage since Gordon retired six years ago. It had been left to the family by his mother and had been their holiday home for three years. Gordon’s mother adored her grandchildren and made sure that they had control over the property. Polly and Gordon hadn’t heard from either of their children for some time so were delighted when Lizzie phoned, never expecting her to drop the bomb. Of course they would comply with her wishes. They wanted her to be happy, naturally – but had she consulted with James? Her brother was meant to have control too. She had, and James was going to be in on the project. So that was that.
Shock was followed by tears and, in Polly’s case, a sleepless night. Gordon had slept but it was a fitful sleep. The next morning they started to work things out. Not easy but there had always been ways for them to make things work. After a start had been made on their working out, they decided to do something bad. They would buy goodies from the baker they simply never bought from – too unhealthy – and collect a bottle of pop from the petrol station when they filled the tank. They would drive to the bridge and see how the trees were coming on. Polly and Gordon had taken the children to watch the trees being planted so they felt that they were partly THEIR trees.
They carried their lunch over to the bench and talked about everything they could remember of family walks by the riverside. They thought how good it was that Lizzie and James had grown into confident adults, completely sure of what they wanted and where they wanted to be. The present situation was horrible but, in the end, they should have expected it. Lizzie was her own person.
The kingfisher didn’t stay. It gave them a tantalising glimpse, a flash of heaven, and then was gone. Nevertheless, Polly and Gordon had been lifted to another plain. They had been in the whirlpool of change – uncontrollable change, but then, with the shooting star in the trees, they had been able to remember their ability to see the good. They went away from the place with a peace which surprised them.
Over the next months everything moved quickly, too quickly to ask many questions .The couple took a flat in an old converted brewery, a bit of an irony really as they were both non-drinkers. They were happy with their new home. Lizzie was able to make great ambitions come alive and James was just an hour’s drive away from his parents – rarely in touch though. Well, he seemed settled – often crossing the pond to see Lizzie in Virginia. Then one Tuesday afternoon, Gordon took a walk alone. Polly waited with his tea on the table. Then came the bell , and the end of Polly’s love affair. Gordon, whom she had loved since they met in their late teens, was no longer a part of this world. The world would still turn but Gordon would not be a part of it. The police lady was very kind, impressing on Polly that Gordon did not suffer at all. He was there and then he wasn’t.
James came for the funeral but Lizzie was unable to get back in time. The car was a friend. It meant that Polly could visit their old haunts without having to speak to anyone, not everyone knew how to speak to someone who had been sawn through the middle. And today she was watching the kingfisher. He had gone but now he was back. He was off again but returned a second time. This flash of heaven was Polly’s homecoming. She closed her eyes and slept in the lovely sunshine.