A companion story to Ghosts
"What have you found, Juraj?" As he moved closer to his son, Luka tried to see past where the boy knelt, unsure still what he would find.
At the sound of his father's voice Juraj turned, his face reflecting concern at whatever was on the ground in front of him. "It's a bird, Tata...I think it's hurt, you have to help it."
"Don't touch it." Luka offered the warning before his son could move to touch it. "I'm not sure I can do anything." He made the admission as he knelt to get a closer look at the bird.
"Tata...but you have to help it." Juraj repeated the plea before turning his attention back to the ground in front of him.
The fact that the animal had barely moved said much about it's condition and Luka was sure that death was not far from finding it. As he leaned in for a closer look it's condition became even more obvious. Young, it was barely feathered, and at that observation Luka shifted his attention momentarily around them. "Juraj, Maja...see there?" He pointed upwards to where a bird circled above them. "That must be one of the parents, it's watching to make sure that it's baby is all right.
"Tata, look!" Maja pointed to a second bird eyeing them from a nearby tree.
"What should we do, Tata?" Juraj looked at the second bird then returned his attention to his father with the question.
"I'm going to guess that the baby fell from the nest, that's why it's Mama and Tata are watching it, if we leave it alone they'll take care of it." As he finished speaking Luka looked between his children, watching for their reactions to the suggestion.
"Are you sure?" Maja seemed unconvinced and moved to her mother's side in search of the welcoming arms that immediately took her into them.
"I'm sure, they'll feed it and watch over it." Luka conveniently omitted from his words that they would stay close only until the baby inevitably died.
"It doesn't seem right to just leave it here alone when maybe we could do something for it." Juraj noted seriously. As he watched the boy idly chewed the side of his thumb, yet another habit of his father's that seemed to have found it's way to him.
"I know, Beba, but if we take it what would happen to it?" Luka flicked his eyes between his children with the question, noting that Maja had settled into her mother's arms for comfort.
"You're sure they'll take care of it?" The boy ignored his father's question to offer one of his own.
"If they weren't going to watch out for it they would have left already." As he spoke Luka stood, then offered his hand to his son. "Why don't we go, we can watch from farther away just to make sure."
As Luka stood so did Juraj and as his father extended his hand he used the opportunity to move into his embrace. "We can watch to make sure?" He repeated the words in confirmation.
"Yes." Luka held his son for a moment then kissed him on the top of his head before releasing him with a smile.
The next 45 minutes were spent in near silence watching the family of birds from a short distance away. Almost as soon as the Kovac's had left the baby the parents had flown in to rejoin it and rapid chirps were soon mingling with the other sounds of the park.
"Are you ready to go?" Luka whispered the question in his son's ear as he held the boy on his lap.
"They will take care of it, won't they?"
"Yes...birds are no different then any other parents." Luka let his old tighten before he rested his chin on his son's shoulder, willing to give him as much time as he needed.
"I'm ready then." Juraj turned his head enough to give his father an unexpected kiss. "Thanks, Tata."
"For what?" Luka found himself smiling at both the action and the unexpected gratitude.
"For letting me make sure, and for being my Tata." The boy dropped his gaze with the sentiment expressed.
"You're very welcome, and I wouldn't have things any other way....I love you, Juraj." As he spoke Luka welcomed the boy into his arms only to have his smile deepen as the embrace was returned.
"I love you too, Tata."
to be continued...