Friday Flashfic: Crow-Maiden

I saw a crow on my way to breakfast this morning. He hopped along beside me, brazen as you please, and cocked his head to regard me with one beady eye.

“Good morning,” I said, because I was raised to be polite.

By the time I left the hall a friend had come to join him, and they were preening each other up in the tree. When they saw me they flew down, and I tossed them the leftover pieces of my bread crust.

Three crows perched on the windowsill of the library as I pored over my books; four winged overhead as I walked back over the bridge toward College. I didn’t think much of it; in a place like this, the ancient stones hold ghostly memories of times past. Walking through the narrow streets steeped in history, magic doesn’t seem so far out of reach.

Five crows sat on the fence of the field and teased the cows. Six mobbed a hawk circling overhead. Seven sat in the trees that lined the footpath and called out in hoarse voices. Eight flew from traffic light to traffic light as I passed through the center of the city. Nine hopped along the cobble stones, a demented parade.

By now we were certainly drawing notice, but the stares didn’t bother me. I had no attention to spare. I could feel something stirring deep within me.

Ten crows browsed through the grass, and eleven chased off the college cat, poor thing. I dropped my things off in my room and went back outside. As the sun set, twelve crows stood in a circle on the grass, leaving one space empty.

Thirteen is a powerful number isn’t it? Thirteen is the sunset over the stones that have been standing since before your birth. It’s the cry in the dark, the locked door, the feeling of being watched. It’s the secrets that old books whisper to each other as they sit dusty on their shelves.

Thirteen is the feeling of feathers sprouting beneath my skin.

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