In the end of course, the other pelicans grew suspicious of the new creatures and the pelican parents asked that their pelican children be removed from the classes where the new creatures sat.
For their part, the human children had grown tired of unscaled fish and a bed which smelled of dried seagrass. They had begun to think fondly of their mother’s rock cakes and rich spaghetti bolognese and although grateful to the pair of pelicans who had rescued them from the paddock of dried grass they began to dream of their own beds and the smell of unwashed sheets.
The pair of pelicans, for whom this had been one final chance to fulfill their dreams of parenting, did everything they could to improve their children’s lives. They searched for cod instead of carp, they desalinated the water, and they shared nightshifts snapping at the mosquitoes which dined on the flesh of the youngest human child.
But late at night, when even mosquitoes slept, the pelicans lay awake and heard the sob-filled dreams and knew that it was time.
And so it was, the children were returned, dropped gently from a height into the self-seeded tomato bush which, in a week had grown rather rapidly to the point that it was bearing recognisable, if unripened, fruit. Their shirts were no more or less filthy than they ever had been, although their mother was sure that the stains were no ingrained.
The mother held the children close and they held her, and when they pulled away, they smiled such smiles of happiness at her that it made her heart beat fast. Absence had made her heart grow fond and so she mentioned neither the shirts, nor the matted hair, nor the freckles which, in the absence of sunblock, had multiplied like the winter spots of bathroom mould. Instead, she handed them the gifts she had bought from the Malls of the Middle East.
She had bought them shoes with wheels and flashing lights, and the children oohed and aahed like she had known they would. She helped them put them on and tie the laces up (confirming with them, that no, they did not have velcro shoes with wheels, and yes, of course, if she’d seen wheeled shoes with velcro she would have bought the velcro home and not the ones with lace) and then the children tried to walk which they could not, and as the children scratched their way along the passage, and scraped their way across the kitchen’s floating floor, and as the night wore on and they stamped their feet at her, and as their voices rang inside her head, she looked outside the window and teased herself about learning how to make a pelican call.