A young couple moves into what they think is going to be their dream cottage in the countryside. When the local wildlife starts to invade their land, the couple soon realizes that every Garden of Eden has at least one unsavory character. A work of short fiction from our Nibs literary line.
“You want to take a shotgun to them birds.”
I can see him now, that sour old man in the village shop and hear his words to this very day.
Maggies Plot—the country cottage that was to be so idyllic—but now all I can feel is a chill at the thought of that seemingly peaceful country setting.
The house had been empty for months when Paul and I bought it from Margaret James, its thin-faced tight-lipped previous owner. We were excited at the prospect of living in the country; I had given up a high-pressure job, and was hoping that in a quiet and restful environment, I would get pregnant. I didn’t mind the fact that Paul still worked long hours; I was sure I was going to enjoy my new home too much to miss him.
The grass had grown long in the garden, and the local wildlife took time to adjust to two new humans. However, since the families of birds seemed to be my only visitors, I welcomed them with enthusiasm. Sometimes I would hear a knocking sound and turn to see a robin angrily darting at its reflection in the newly glazed uncurtained window. It would learn, I thought, that there were friends here now.
On the perimeter of the garden, three of a variety of birds, which proudly displayed their magnificent scarlet fronts, hung like roses in the branches of the trees, and high up, above the remains of a matted nest, I could see the black and white flashes of long tail and feathers. I, who had known only sparrow, pigeon and robin, from my original home, found these unknown birds fascinating.
On my first visit to Tom Harkness’s village store, I bought a packet of wild bird-seed and a children’s book, showing garden birds in colourful and accurate detail. The least I could do, as hostess, was know the names of my guests.
Flicking through, and keen to have some country small talk to volunteer, I told old Tom, “We have some beautiful bullfinches in our garden!”
“You want to take a shotgun to them!” he said, scowling “They’ll have all your fruit buds off the trees. Terrible pest, they are!”
Miserable old devil, I thought to myself. There was room for all of us at Maggies Plot.