I stared at the crow at our picnic and knew he was the same crow who swung on the pirate cage as the grey sea roiled beneath. He was the same crow who strutted the icy battlefield, pecking in and out of the fallen. He’d been to the medieval marketplace where the witch had been strangled. He’d sat on her shoulder and rubbed his head on her creamy cheek.
Throughout time he was a breath of darkness on the wind, flying only to free souls caught in their heavy prison of flesh. I caught myself, giving a little shake of my head, gripping harder on my napkin, staring fiercely at the grass beside me. But the smell of old blood was in my nose, and my eyes were wet.
We ate the sandwiches more slowly as he stood, the others’ jolly mood also quieted. He eyed us in turn, a little breeze ruffling his feathers. We jumped a little when he barked at us in his harsh way, barrister-like. He was glossy, blue-black in the sunshine, as out of place as a vampire in our midday meadow.
My daughter tossed him a crust and he eyed it before lifting it and swallowing it whole. We sat still until he coughed a little clack of thanks before leaping and wheeling away on the breeze. I breathed again, understanding with gladness on some deep, primeval level that it was not our time.
Moving in a little closer, we opened the lemonade, trying to smile. Around us the bees buzzed again, and the pink butterflies spun together. I tried to forget the dark shadows of horrors to come, and enjoy what little time we had left.
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A reminder to us all of the passing of time - I cannot believe how quickly the year is flying by!