"Those are the children who died," she said, pointing to the sky.
I looked up, "You mean that flock of gulls?"
"They are white falcons," she said. "They are enchanted and must stay that way until the spell is broken."
I looked down at her, not sure whether to smile, but her little face was solemn. "What happened to them?"
"While they were napping in their cribs or in their beds, she came through the window on a shaft of sunlight."
"Cruel Fate. Then she touched each one between the eyes and said, You shall have cancer, and You shall have cancer, and You shall have cancer, and you shall be mine."
Did she realize what she was saying to me? I looked at her for some kind of hint, but my little companion walked on quietly, the breeze lifting her long hair.
"Then what?" I prompted.
"They got cancer," she said simply.
"All at the same time?"
"No," she turned to me surprised, "some right away, some years later and some while they were in their mommy's tummy."
"But how can that be - if they were napping?"
"Don't you know? Cruel Fate is a witch and she can do these kind of things."
She stooped down to examine a piece of shell and I gazed out over the estuary, imagining the witch who had killed my son. "Is this a story someone told you?"
"No." She looked up at me and smiled. "I just know it." She stood up and we continued walking, hand in hand.
"But if they are children who died, why are they now falcons?"
"Because Cruel Fate has a sister and she came in right behind."
"On the same beam of light?"
"No, on the breeze, then she whispered in each child's ear."
She stopped again to show me a flower, then ran ahead to look at something else.
"Wait!" I called. I hurried to catch up with her. "What did she whisper?"
"Oh her. She kissed each cheek and whispered, You shall escape on the wings of a falcon but only a blanket of tears will break the spell."
I felt my eyes well up, so I turned away.
“Look at those ducks,” she laughed, “they have babies!"
We counted the ducklings, and watched the fog roll in. Then she told me she was hungry. "We'll turn back,"I said. "It's almost dinner time."
She seemed to have forgotten her story so I prompted her again. "But how exactly is the spell broken?"
"Their parent's tears catch up with them in the mist." She pointed, "Look! There are the falcons again!"
Far away, I saw the falcons flying into the fog. "What will happen to them?" I asked.
"The fog will wrap around them like a blanket and the children's spirits will be free."
"Where will they go?"
Once again she looked at me with surprise. "I don't know."
"But will they be alright?"
"Of course they'll be alright! The witch has lost."
"And what was the name of the sister, the one who came in on the breeze?"
"I'm not sure, but I think her name was Hope."