Grandad taught him how to make a coal fire. He would wait to hear the outside coal bunker being rattled, then grab his blanket and run downstairs, taking pole position on the sofa overlooking the fireplace. Something hypnotic floated in a cold morning air. A soft hush from ash, shovelled from under the stool-grate and placed on yesterday’s headlines. Miner’s hands turned and twisted; paper turned into perfect firelighters. Precision and experience constructed beds of coal and kindling. A strike of a match, the thud of a damper. Golden glows filled the room. He laid back and breathed in the magic.
He had never seen a sparrowhawk this close. Three metres at most, as he camouflaged himself behind Aloe Vera’s across his window. Blue silvered wings shrouded her prey. Powerful limbs and speckled chest absorbed dawn sunlight.
Peck by peck she dismantled. A carpet of young pigeon feathers laid to confirm her regal status. His slight twitch alerted her. Sparrowhawk and carcass gone. Upstairs, his 6 a.m. alarm, a lament for a grieving mother, floated through the Mede.