From underneath the stunted gorse bushes which bordered the stony beach a pair of slightly clouded eyes peered out trying to focus upon the movement just on the waters edge. Alert for the moment, should he look to fight or edge back further under cover to avoid detection? Tense seconds passed, his breathing slowing to the barest minimum required to draw oxygen into his old, tired body. For all that he could remember his life had been thus, caught between the need to fight or flight, a constant battle in a land that he still could not bring himself to call home even though his whole waking life had been spent here. The flock of oystercatchers burst as one into the air wheeling away to feed upon the sandbanks in the distant estuary, satisfied that nothing else was encroaching on his resting place, Maili lowered his weary head to his paws and drifted back to his fitful sleep in the pale evenings sun, his mind drifting back to the horrors of his youth and the beginning of the journey which had finally brought him to this place of peace. His feet kicked involuntary as the memories of journey drifted across his mind, memories of great sadness, fear, pain but also of the joy of finally belonging and of knowing that he’d reached the journeys’ end.
He started again, but not because of any noise in the still surrounding air, but because he’d thought he could hear the lullabys that Ciqala, his mother, had crooned to him during the terror of the cages. This was his earliest memory, of blinding light from the overhead false Suns, the soothing warbling of Ciqala as she calmed him from the screams of the ones that had been taken from the cages, never to be seen again. There was never darkness, just the false Suns’ glare and the iron smell of blood seeping from a place out of their sight and comprehension. Once again Maili lowered his head allowing the visions that his mother’s song brought forth wash over him, for the time being chasing the memories of the cages away.