The crow and the wall
They grew up separated by a wall, and yet together. They’d first seen each other on a Sunday, when both families had been leaving the respective palaces to go to church at exactly the same time. It would never happen again.
The precise reasons for the feud which had made sworn enemies of their families were old and all but forgotten, but reciprocal contempt and hatred had been dutifully cultivated by all their relatives for more than a century. And yet, when they saw each other for that brief moment at twelve, neither of them had looked away.
She had noticed that every day he took a walk in the garden with his tutor, at the same hour she was out on her side of the wall with her maid; one day, while the tutor had his nose buried in a book, she threw a stone wrapped in paper over the wall. The only words on the paper were “Crows like to dine on my balcony”. There were indeed many crows living in the woods behind their families’ palaces. He caught a baby crow and put a red ribbon around its neck. He kept it in a cage and trained it patiently to fly around and come back to him.
One day, a stone flew again over the wall, wrapped in paper, while the girl’s maid had her nose buried in the garden roses. The only words on the paper were “My crow likes red scarves”. She laughed, and that evening she put some bread on her balcony and looked out for the crow with something red around its neck. She tied a piece of paper to the crow’s leg. The only word on the paper was her name. He wrote back. She wrote again. He wrote back again.
The crow brought their words back and forth across the wall for five years, while they tried to steal moments to talk to each other. She, who could dance as lightly as a feather, would often accidentally step on strangers’ feet in shops and on the street; he, who could remember everything he read after looking at the page once, would keep forgetting his coat, sword, or purse and need to run back to retrieve them.
One day, the girl’s father invited some friends whose daughter was the same age as the girl. When the big black crow appeared, she screamed in fear; the gardener looked up and hurled a stone at the crow. The bird managed to fly away, but lost a piece of paper which the loyal gardener brought to his master.
In a rage, the girl’s father yelled that he would lock her up in a nunnery. The girl jumped from her balcony and ran desperately towards the garden wall. The boy, who’d seen the crow come back with a broken wing, was at his window and saw her. He ran into his garden and towards the wall too.
Just moments before the girl’s father grabbed her, a bolt of lightning struck the wall and disintegrated it. Once the dust had settled, the girl and the boy had inexplicably disappeared. Only a dead crow with a broken wing was found on the ground.
But people who often went walking in the woods behind the two rival families’ palaces started telling the story of two crows that always seemed to fly together; except when one of them flew back to their nest as if it had forgotten something there, while the other waited on a branch, moving in tiny little steps as if dancing.
To read more from Chiara please visit @chiara84