Three things to know about Jamie: he’s small, he’s quiet and he’s the youngest of seven. While all the others throw balls and kick balls or hit balls, Jamie draws and paints. Until he gets walloped, that is. While the others shout and snatch and push to get their parents’ attention, James watches what’s around him. He’s the thoughtful nestling. He gazes up at twigs and stars and skies, the green-leafed and the night-piercing and the dark-feathered in wonder.
That’s why he calls for the crow. When the others scrabble over food, Jamie takes crumbs and scraps for his friend with the beak. She grows less wary each time. He gets so close he can see his own reflection in her black cabochon eye. They hide, quiet and companionable, at the furthest corner of the garden, well away from football goals and the basketball net, drawing and seeking out leatherjackets.
But that never saves him from his siblings. They seek him out. If he doesn’t hide his sketchbook in time, there’s any amount of jeering and grabbing and he doesn’t see his ally for hours. Sometimes it leaves him weeping.
One bleak winter afternoon, the crow lands in front of him. He can hardly see her through his long, tear-crusted lashes. But he follows her lolloping, bouncing trail out of the garden and into the dusky woods. She takes him away from the hillocks scarred by family bikes and down into a hushed dell. Once a quarry, the tree branches don’t quite meet over its shady centre, full of moss and ferns.
He sits on a damp green rock and starts to draw. She’s not having any of it. She hops on his sketchbook (a thing she’s never done before) and tugs his sleeve. He puts his pencil away and follows her. She leads him deep into the lush undergrowth of ferns. The moon rises overhead.
Tiny dots of magic fall from the ferns onto his hands, land in his hair and enter his lungs. At that moment he starts to vanish. From that moment, if he wishes, Jamie can disappear. He becomes invisible to his whole rumbustious family, to teachers who interrupt his daydreams, to critics who would break his hopes.
The crow hops away, proud of her work.
Read more by K.M. Lockwood @lockwoodwriter or http://kmlockwood.com/come-in-they-are-waiting/