4 min read

Chapter 28: Spring Fever

With the arrival of spring, Saffron gets a new perspective on her problems
An image of a small songbird is overlaid with the text "Saffron and Bear" and "Chapter 28: Spring Fever"

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“I wish I was a bird,” Saffron sighed, not for the first time.

Bear blinked at her, judgement in his eyes.

They stood outside the fence that Professor Burton had erected around the house and its lands. Somewhere inside, behind the house, was the Cemetery. Ever since she’d seen it on the map at Mister Payton’s house, Saffron knew it had to be important. It was like the house had been: a secret, something she’d never seen before, something hidden. She suspected there were answers there.

She’d been thinking a lot about birds since her conversation with the Queen. Just fly over, the Queen had said.

But it wasn’t that easy. She didn’t have wings like her friends the crow or the goose.

She wasn’t a shapeshifter like Alistair. She was just a stubborn witch with no idea how to keep her charges safe.

Bear was still staring up at her, his yellow eyes gleaming in the dappled light of the forest.


Of course. She didn’t need to fly over, she just had to borrow eyes from someone who could.

Saffron closed her own eyes and settled her mind, focusing on the sounds of the forest around her. She let her consciousness drift outward, toward the sound of birdsong. She whispered a few words, and when she opened her eyes, she was looking down at herself from a tree branch high above, through the eyes of a sparrow.

It took her a moment to adjust to the sparrow’s bird vision; all the colours were different and the vantage point was odd. When she was ready, she whispered a few more words to suggest to the little creature that it wanted to stretch its wings, and it obliged.

As the bird went swooping over the fence, Saffron kept her eyes peeled, but there was little to see. While much of the property had been restored to its former glory, the back lawn remained overgrown, and the bird wouldn’t get in close enough for Saffron to see anything. She tried to nudge it toward the area where the cemetery had been marked on the map, but she couldn’t see anything that looked like a grave.

Maybe her instinct had been wrong. Maybe the cemetery had already been long gone before everything went wrong with the house.

After a few more sweeps of the grounds, she released the bird from her spell and let her focus return to her own body. She watched the sparrow fly back up to its perch as she recovered her own vision.

Bear meowed up at her, lifting one paw to bat at her leg.

“Come on then,” she sighed, “we’d better go home before she catches us standing out here.”

As weird as the revised version of the forest was, it was still a delight to walk through and admire the signs of spring that were starting to show themselves. New plants were poking up through the mud, the tips of the trees’ branches were beginning to swell with buds, and everywhere the birds were singing.

A squirrel ran across their path and Bear took off after it. Saffron, full of restless nervous energy, ran after him. The squirrel escaped up a tree and Bear took up a guard position underneath it, but Saffron kept running. Her stride lengthened as her legs settled into a rhythm and her lungs pumped the air in and out. In, and out. In, and out.

She felt good.

She ran all the way out of the forest and let out a laugh when she felt the sun fall on her face. Sage, who was out in the garden, looked up at the noise.

“What’s going on? Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Saffron panted as she came to a stop. “Everything’s great.”

She grabbed Sage’s hands and pulled her into a twirl, and soon the two of them were spinning and pirouetting around the garden in time to some song neither of them could hear.

Bear came trotting up, having abandoned his dreams of squirrel for supper. He flopped down on the grass, and Saffron collapsed beside him, reaching out to pet his tummy.

“What’s gotten into you?” Sage asked as she returned to her weeding. “I haven’t seen you this happy in ages.”

“I don’t know.” Saffron laid on her back, looking up at the blue sky overhead. “Spring fever, I guess.”

“Whatever it is, I like it.” Sage pulled a few more weeds. “You were always the happy, easy-going one when we were kids. These days you walk around with the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“Yeah, well. Sometimes I think it is.”

“I know you care so much about all your charges and the forest itself, and that’s admirable. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel bad all the time. No one expects that of you.”

“Thanks.” Saffron rolled over and rested her head on her folded hands. “I just miss the way things were before.”

“Before I came back?” Sage teased.

Saffron stuck her tongue out. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I know.”

“I’m glad you’re here.”

“Me too.”

Saffron got up and hugged her sister. Sage stopped what she was doing and wrapped her arms around her in return. Just for a moment, everything felt right.

As Sage pulled away, she nudged Saffron’s arm. “Now help me with this weeding, or it’ll never get done.”

“Fine, fine,” Saffron sighed, but she didn’t mind. It was just nice not to have to do the weeding alone, for a change.

It was nice not having to do everything alone.

She went to the shed for her gloves, rolled up her sleeves, and got to work on the garden, side-by-side with her sister.

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Katie Conrad is a speculative fiction writer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can find her on twitter, instagram, and tumblr.