A burst of sunlight with this heart warming story.
The crow stretched her wings in the dead of night, once the old woman had drifted into a deep sleep. She hopped from the foot of her bed, onto the chill wooden floors, and leapt up to the windowsill.
The window worked its way open with a nudge of the bird’s beak and a breath of air pushed through the gap. The crow glanced back at the elderly woman as she turned onto her side, hugging her sheets tightly. Quietly, she squeezed through the window opening and onto the ledge outside.
The air tasted of winter, of sweet pine and smoke. Good evening, she whispered into the darkness. But there was no response. It was unlike the night to have nothing to say, the crow thought. They were old friends. And yet, there was something new in the air that made her shiver. A stillness, like the moment between heartbeats. A quiet panic grew inside her.
There's no reason to be scared, the crow told herself as she shook away the cold and took off into the night.
* * *
Pine trees stretched on in every direction. A shimmering sea of snow-tipped branches. If she squinted hard enough, the crow could catch glimpses of life through the canopy; rustling undergrowth, the nervous scampering of paws, wolves stalking the frozen ground as nesting owls watched from above.
EEEEeeeekkkk! the crow screamed, nearly losing her balance on the wind. A sharp pain pierced her chest, as if shot with an invisible arrow, now throbbing to the beat of her racing heart.
Who was that? the bird asked. Leave me alone!With each flap of her wings, she felt her body weaken, each movement threatening to send her plummeting into the forest depths.
The pain hit her again, fiercer than the last. The bird searched the skies. She couldn’t see it, wherever the attacker was hiding. The panic inside her mind grew even louder. She wanted to turn back, but the house with the old woman was far behind her now, lost in the icy darkness. I've got it!she said. I’ll fly above the clouds, as high as I can go! They won't be able to follow me there.
And so, with her remaining strength, she turned her sights to the heavens, working her wings as hard as she could. It felt like a lifetime had passed by the time she neared the clouds. The forest floor was miles beneath her, a shapeless grey carpet. Yet still the bird rose higher.
The air grew thin, and the pain tore through her heart like a knife. Within seconds, the clouds had engulfed her, with nothing but darkness in every direction. She felt helpless, barely able to tell up from down. Her strength had all but faded as she felt herself being pulled back to earth.
Then, there was light.
A warm glow kissed her face, and she opened her eyes. It was morning here and the sun was high in the sky. That’s not possible, the bird cried. She noticed that the pain had vanished from her chest and her strength was returned. In fact, she barely felt the need to move her wings at all. She was weightless on the wind, drifting lighter than air.
That’s when she saw them, scattered across the horizon like black stars against a midday sky. Birds, hundreds of them. Some of them she recognised – forgotten faces from the past. A sudden lightness filled her heart as she joined them.
This isn’t so scary, she smiled.
Read more by Aaron @aaronhaviland