The Cuckoo in the Nest
“Where’s Carl?” Stella hadn’t noticed his absence immediately. The six of them were cramped in their one room, though she’d tried to make it cosy with soft furnishings.
She looked at the children, their eyes huge in their faces, their mouths agape. They jostled each other, nobody willing to speak.
“Billy…” squeaked a small voice that was immediately hushed.
Stella looked at Billy with stony eyes. It was hard to love this huge son of hers, so unfamiliar, crowding out the space for his finer boned siblings. She tried to be a good mother but she had to dash out to find food for them all. They were a growing family and needed sustenance. Terry was on night shift and barely made it back with anything to show for his efforts. It was down to her to feed them all and there was no way she could take four of them out on her own.
Billy stared back at her, daring her to say anything. Stella looked away first and bustled about portioning out the little she had brought. She tried to be fair but knew Billy would swipe the majority out of the little ones’ mouths.
She tried again. “Where’s Carl? Tell me the truth.”
“He fell off the ledge,” whispered Anna. “We were playing and Billy…” she gulped and carried on, “Billy tripped him.”
“It was an accident,” said Billy.
Stella rushed to the ledge and peered over. Carl’s broken body lay on the flagstones below. She keened. She was about to rush to him when Billy’s voice stopped her.
“I’m hungry again. You need to fetch me more food.”
Stella didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to leave Anna and Rob.
“It will never happen again, I promise.”
Stella flew as fast as she could.