The crow Song
I released this short prologue to a possible series in my newsletter on March 15, as the first preview I put in every monthly newsletter. Today is the day I release it on my blog and as I re-read it, I got the shivers because of the odd similarity to what’s happening in the world. I went to my journal to find out when I first wrote it. January 23, 2020. That freaks me out a little bit, given recent events and the fact that, as a non-watcher of news, I had no real way of knowing what was coming. In any case, I hope you enjoy it, and although it seems like I was being portentous, in fact, I’m sure there will be a lot more fantasy, and a lot more magic when the entire series comes to be.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard one of them comment about me being one of my own offspring. They said it even before I’d long outlived the natural lifespan of my kind. It begs the question. Do they even know how long a crow lives in the first place? Clearly longer than they think. Maybe they can’t tell because to them, we all look the same.
Apart from me, that is. Besides being bigger and sleeker, there’s a tuft of white feathers above my right eye. It is my mark. I carry it to show I was chosen. I am my Master’s eyes and ears. His source of information. His caretaker.
The white patch is what marks me as unique to the humans, as well. They point it out, wondering if it is hereditary. Which is why they assume I am my own offspring. But this mark does not pass from parent to hatchling. Only from Master to servant. Mine tells all of our kind he chose me as his intellectual equal.
However. My job is to observe, and there are places better suited to that occupation than my current perch on a fence post. Getting above the humans is best. They almost never look up, so have no idea they are being watched.
Today I choose the old tree in the yard of the first apartment building they built in this city. People go about their lives below, talking, listening to their ear buds, watching their phones.
I watch them.
Styles have changed over the years. Used to be, you never saw a woman in trousers. Now, a dress is a rare sighting.
I miss the horses. They had a good smell. A bit of natural in all the hustle and bustle. Still. Better for them not to get caught in the middle of all this. Too much stink now.
Everything stinks. I want to leave, but am tasked with waiting. Watching. What I watch for will come. My Master will know when it happens. He will want a witness.
I feel bad for the bustling people. They have no idea it’s coming. Perhaps it’s best this way. Some will adapt, of course. Some always do. I am living proof.
Most won’t. For them, best not to see it coming. It’ll be quick for those who don’t survive. There is no easy way for the others.
One of them glances up, sees me, smiles.
“What an unusual bird,” they say. Or something like it. “Those feathers. Does that mean he’s old? Do they die before they turn grey?”
I spread my wings, rising, my talons barely connected to the branch on which I perch. “If you only knew how old,” I tell them.
Of course, to them, it’s just the raucous call of a crow.
Come home, Darling.
I hear the call in my head. He only ever calls me darling now. I wonder If he even remembers my name. Do I? Does it matter?
The wind has changed.
A shift of the breeze to the humans below.
A portent to me.
It is time.
My Master calls me home.
Below, as I fly, I see the warmth of their spirits blink out, one by one.
I fly faster. Perhaps it is my time.
I fly higher. Still, the snuffing of each light touches my soul.
Don’t fret. Come home now.
I fly harder. I must see him one last time before the end.
As I lite on the windowsill, he rises from his chair, hand out. I step down, one foot on the floor, powering through the fastest change I’ve ever made, reaching, hoping for a last brush of his skin on mine. I’m just in time to catch his last spark.
As the wailing goes up outside from those who are left, silver feathers fall through my fingers. My own wail catches in my throat, tearing into a sob, ripping at my heart as the change from bird to man rips through my body.
The servant becomes the Master.
Somewhere out there, a lone crow huddles in a tree, afraid, confused as his senses awake.
I gather the remains of my Master to arrange them in a jar with the others. His are the most brilliant silver, as I knew they would be.
“I will miss you.”
Outside the wailing is endless. Beneath the human pain is the lament of a single crow.
I will find him, as my Master found me. I will teach him.
Together, we will watch for the next flare of the way lines. We will wait. Perhaps we can save them this time. Perhaps we can teach them how to do better. How to be kinder.
Perhaps this time, it will be different.