- Vol. 01
- Chapter 05
Image by Denise Nestor
WhistleJonny would whimper and cry when he heard the whistle. I didn’t understand. In fact, I was jealous. I’d wait in my pyjamas on our landing upstairs and hide in the shadows listening to the whistle turn into song, and Jonny sobbing softly. I was jealous that they had a secret. I tried to catch them out. I heard the song crescendo, and bounded out of my bedroom to reveal their secret. My feet slipped and scratched along the landing as they caught in my pyjama bottoms. I tripped and stumbled to Jonny’s bedroom door; I burst in but was disappointed to find the guttural rasp of the song had disappeared. Jonny was asleep, his cheeks singing crimson. His fist were curled into balls like scones, small and pale, and his forehead was carved with a frown like some hieroglyphic enigma.
I kissed his forehead and returned to my bedroom, fighting with the fibres of my pillow to listen for the whistle once more.
For weeks, the singing stopped. The secret seemed to have dissipated into the night, and I hoped it would not return.
I found Jonny, naked but for a t-shirt, in the tool-shed. At first I giggled when I saw his bare bottom squatting in the corner. He had his back to me, and seemed to have one of Dad's tools in his tiny hand. It was then that the smell hit me. It came in waves of pennies and tasted of metal in my mouth, and then hung like old meat in the air. It engulfed my throat and made me vomit.
I heard Jonny faintly singing and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. My eyes stung. ‘Jonny?’
He snapped his head around to face me. His eyes were blood red, and his crimson cheeks were stained with dirty fingerprints that seemed to drag across his mouth.
WhistleHe was holding a hammer in one hand, and a dead bird by its neck in the other.
He began to hum. It was that song, that whistle, that tune. And with one swift movement, the hammer made contact with the bird's head.
Jonny looked at me with a sea in his eyes. He dropped the bird into a pile of rotting flesh. Bones protruded like knitting needles. He wiped his hands on his t-shirt and tugged on it to cover his naked skin.
‘Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird,’ he sang.