I saw the photo for this week's I Love Dark YA Blogfest theme and knew I had to write something, but I didn't want to post it on my review blog, Reader Girls. This blog is my writer's blog and the piece belonged here. The photo was very inspiring so while Caity was at ballet class, I sat in the car and typed. This is my attempt at flash fiction. I know the total was 500 words but the scene begged for more. Who knows? I may expand this in time.
As The Crow Flies
A high-pitched childish voice awoke me. I scrubbed my eyes and opened them. Back in the woods. How did I get here?
Again, the same voice, but from where? As my sight cleared, I noticed no one around me on the ground. The people chased by bad guys in the movies never do one thing—look up. I looked up.
A crow with midnight blue feathers sat on a bare branch, one yellow and black eye staring down. At me.
But who spoke? I cocked my head to the side. Maybe I was hearing voices. This was a dream, after all, wasn’t it?
The bird shifted from leg to leg, eye never leaving me. “Direction, please. Are you mute?”
With a sudden gust, the bird swooped down onto a decaying log to my right.
Here goes. “Why are you asking me for my direction?”
Wings flapped as if in anger or frustration. Join the club.
“You stepped into The Woods of Perpetuum. My job is to guide newlings to their destination.”
“Oh…” I said. That’s all. What did I eat last night? “Wait, what’s a newling?”
The bird sighed like a human. Holy crap!
“A newling is a new spirit.” Hopping on one spindly branch-like leg, it pointed a wing at me. “You.”
I mimicked its movement with my hand flying towards my chest. Then I realized what I had on. A white slip. “I…I’m confused.”
Another sigh. “What is the last thing you remember?” Its tone was definitely huffy.
“Um…. Skating. On the pond behind my house.” My fingers gripped the lightweight material of my slip/dress. Wrong season for cotton.
“Wait! The trees here are bare. No snow. We had six inches on the ground. Yesterday.” Oh, yeah, dream.
This bird was as annoying as some of my teachers. I glared at him. This was a dream, and it was mine. I get to have the attitude. “I went to practice. I was alone.” Gliding across the ice. Felt so alive. So good to be back. “Then I heard it—”
“The cracking or the gunshot?” my interrogator said.
“The…” What had I heard? “Gunshot. Hunters were nearby.”
It began to hop back-and-forth like a kid does when they have to pee. “Yes, yes.”
“I kept skating.” Across and back. Doing lazy eights, letting my arms float by my side. Almost like flying. Until—“A deer. Bolted onto the ice in front of me. Panicked eyes. Skidded.” I could still hear the echo of its hooves clomping down. “I stopped. Watched the animal do a crazy dance toward me on the ice. It fell. And then, another sound.” Like tree branches burdened with snow, crackling under the pressure. A shotgun of sound. “The ice began to break. I couldn’t move.”
“He came through earlier. Animals. Much simpler to guide. Humans? Hmph, very difficult.” I had not noticed the crow had returned to its leafy perch, gazing down at me.
Stupid dream. I must have hit my head. Or had a temperature. “I fell. Well, slipped. The ice had already broken around me. I became trapped. I fell and the surface split more.” Ugly puzzle pieces. “I yelled. Screamed for help, but…. I fell in. Who got me out? Who saved me?”
A sympathetic eye settled on mine. “No one did. You died, Judith Syren. Now where do you want to go? Back, to watch over the living? Forward towards the pearlescent gates? Or do you seek fulfillment? An afterlife after life?”
My lips twitched. Seriously? He expects an answer now? “I, I don’t—” I pinched myself. And felt it. “This is a dream.”
“Does it feel like a dream?”
Silence enveloped us.
The crow stood up, slowly spreading its wings open into a shimmering curtain. “May I?”
“What?” I snapped.
“Offer a suggestion?”
“You love skating. Take the third option. Hint: you meet others.”
“Option three?” I repeated like a parrot. But I needed to think it out awhile. I could still awaken, couldn’t I?
“Three it is!”
I lurched forward. “Wait! That wasn’t my final answer!”
“You spoke the words. Enjoy your life, Judith Marie Syren.”
Fluttering wings, incessant cawing, and the bird grew smaller. The area began to darken. My head turned cloudy. A sudden chill misted my skin. I was either going to wake up or not….