Thanks to the replies on Twitter the story chosen for week 30 is "The Crowgirl" by Suzy Aspley. This story will be exhibited along side the illustration in January 2019.
As a child, she was always alone. In the playground, on the walk home, and on the rare occasions when she entered the park. With her tangled black hair and liquid dark eyes, pale alabaster skin making her a striking, but strange figure. The other children called her Crowgirl. They meant it as an insult. Intended to wound and hurt feelings. But she liked it.
She gathered their ebony feathers from fields and woodland, loved the feeling of sharp spines and the quill, with the barbules, tiny flares of smaller feathers soft as she brushed them across her fingers and face. As she grew, she wove them into her hair.
She wept when she saw the birds hanging from fences, supposedly to ward evil spirits away. But she knew the evil lay not within the birds, but in the cruelty of man. She looked up and saw their black wings glistening as they soared, chasing buzzards away from their nests in pairs, fiercely loyal and fiercely protective of each other.
The years passed and Crowgirl was seen less and less, sometimes as a shadow in the woods, or as an indistinct shape, floating over the golden barley fields that whispered gently in the autumn breeze.
People stayed away, and she remained alone. But never lonely. Spending more time with the birds that she loved. As night fell, she curled up, wrapped in the cloak of feathers that she had knitted together for many years, and her spirit soared, over lochs and glens. She sat atop the ruined tower of a castle as moonlight cast a pale beam across the misty mountains and the people locked their doors as they heard her sharp caw echo through the night.
She wasn’t seen again after that. Not in the sense that people would recognise her. She was now the stuff of magic, shrouded in a haze of the blackest feathers and captured only in dreams.