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For Crows

Unofficial challenge entry - Munson's Microfiction: My Tears Need A Minute

By L.C. SchäferPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read

When I was seven, Ma told me crows are clever. Bright enough to forge friendships and hold grudges. "If you upset a crow, he'll remember you," she said. "But if someone leaves them food regularly, sometimes they bring presents."

I never asked how she knew this.

"Can I feed them?" I asked. "Please?" I very badly wanted to be the girl who had crows following her to school, and bringing presents.

"No," she answered, her expression tightening. She glanced over at the boys sitting on the back porch in their stained white vests with that air rifle, and looked away again.

The crows liked the tree out there, just beyond the edge of our property. If it was ours, Da might've cut it down. Or maybe he'd have just shouted and cussed about it, I don't know.

He sat out there with a bottle, scowling in a cloud of stubble and boozy fug, and take pot shots at them. Just for fun, I suppose. I don't think he ever hit one, and it was never enough to scare them away properly.

My big brother would beg a turn with the rifle, lie on his belly and squint down the length of it. When they flapped and cawed into the sky, his eyes would light up and he'd look to Da for approval. Swigging his Dr Pepper and swelling with pride when he got it.

Ma gave no explanation. I thought maybe she didn't like the crows much either. Now, I think, of course, they'd have come closer to the house. Da would have got madder. He hated the noise they made, thought they were dirty and mean. Ma didn't want that. She often leaned into peace, the smoother path. Maybe she cared about the crows, too. Bolder, closer, they'd have been easier to shoot. Hurt. Kill.

I found a secluded spot at the park, set up a small platform in the fork of a tree and secured it with the ribbons Ma fastened my hair with. (She scolded me for losing them.) I checked a book out of the library and learned what foods I should offer.

It worked! They brought me oddly shaped pebbles, bottle caps, and, most-treasured: ring-pulls with twigs threaded through. These weren't just found. They were made. For me. They left me feathers, too. I liked crow feathers best. I brought the gifts home and stashed them in a shoebox. I sat still, for a change, for Ma to tame my feral hair into braids, and then poked the feather stems into them.

When Dale followed me and found my makeshift bird table, he broke it out of spite. My new friends didn't like that. One in particular swooped down and harassed him every time he set foot in the park. It meant I had a place I could go to get away from him. It was the best gift they gave me.

I found another board, and stole hammer and nails from the shed to use instead of ribbons.

One night, we hurried out of the house with a few hastily packed bags. Ma with the side of face swollen and red, and Dale dragging his feet and looking over his scrawny shoulder.

We ended up in a shared townhouse with two other families. Not a crow in sight. Only pigeons. I admired the sheen of their feathers, a hint of peacock amongst dusty grey. But it wasn't the same.

Dale left, and went home to Da. For a few years at least. Tempers, I think, got the best of them in the end. They parted ways in a storm of words.

Yesterday, I came back for a funeral. Drove past that old house. It looks different now. Someone built an extension, and that tree is long gone. The park is still there, and hidden away at the far end, the board nailed to a branch. There are many, many twigpulls. I sit here counting them with gentle fingers.

My tears need a minute to find the edges of my face. If you'll please excuse me.

I'm not even sure who I'm crying for. For the old man who died alone, pickled and prickly to the end. For the woman who lived so long in his shadow, and took flight in the face of his rage. For the boy who had the makings of a decent man, and left those makings behind. For the crows who came back and back and back and wondered where their strange friend had gone. For the little girl who braided feathers into her hair and watched the flight of birds.

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Authors note

Word count: excluding note: 791

The story behind the story: This is an entry for Christy Munson's challenge, My Tears Need a Minute

I think with the 30 year anniversary of The Crow, crows have just been on my mind this week!

A Story A Day: If you are following my story a day project, I am not planning to count this one towards it, since it goes over the word count for that. I may see if I can edit it down, if not I will submit a different one.

As always, thank you for reading!

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FantasyMicrofiction

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

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Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (6)

  • Kalina Bethanyabout a month ago

    This was so lovely to read!! Excited to share some food with bird friends now, soon :)

  • Sarah Wilcoxabout a month ago

    I nominated this on the raise your voice thread because it is an absolutely fantastic piece of writing. You captivated me and I felt every emotion you invoked. I meant to comment sooner because you also were my inspiration to write a micro fiction and join this same challenge and I wanted to say thank you! I really appreciate you sharing this it resonates with me!! 🫶

  • Really interesting tale LC! I've thought about what it would be like to make friends with Crows before - I know that isn't the point of the story, but it came across my mind. It's interesting how we can all look at things so differently.

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    Oh LC! It is more than for a challenge!

  • I would have cried for the crows who came back and back and back 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    Thank you, L.C., for participating. Out of objectivity, I'll say no more at this time other than to say I thoroughly enjoyed your take on the microfiction challenge.

L.C. SchäferWritten by L.C. Schäfer

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