Sarah’s Crow

Artwork by Jakub Różalski

Sarah hadn’t seen the crow since its last visit over a week ago. She had hoped the crow would visit her again and she checked the fence post in the field where she left food scraps for it and even discarded the old scraps and added fresh, but he hadn’t been back yet.

It was something she had done since she was a child after her mother told her that crows had families too. Her mother also told her that crows were special and some believed they were magic and that they kept secrets they would only reveal to a few.

Sarah thought it was just an old wives tale until one day she found a polished rock on the fence post where she had left food for the crow. It was like a gift and thereafter she started to find more things the crow would leave for her and each item was unique and sometimes strange.

She realized that depending on what kind of food she left the crow, it would bring different things in return. A little bit of meat would always garner something polished and smooth. A nut or piece of fruit would be rewarded with strangely twisted sticks, magnificently colored pieces of lichen, or strange little mushrooms.

All of these items she kept in a basket that over the years became filled with the collection and today she carried the basket into the field with her.

It was what the crow left her last time that had her hoping for its return because she wanted to thank the crow and had for each day this week visited the fence post and brought with her choice pieces of meat, but all of it was untouched.

It was such a strange and wonderful item and she couldn’t imagine where the crow could find something so beautiful.

A gold ring, smooth and rich in color and its surface felt like warm velvet. When she held it in her closed hand it always felt warmer than it should. But it was the extraordinary gemstone set in the ring that almost took her breath away when she first saw it.

It was purple, a deep rich purple, a color that she had never seen before. And it wasn’t just the color but also how it responded to light. In the daylight it was magnificent and it would project glorious rays of light as if it was the center of life itself.

At dusk it would change color and turn almost black but still playfully radiate small glimmers of light.

But at night in the moonlight it became something beyond all imagination. It seemed to come alive in the glow of the moonlight and for the last week each time she visited the field the gemstone would appear different and it seemed to mirror the phases of the moon.

Tonight was the full moon and it would be rising early so she hurried to the field so she would be standing in the clearing as it rose over the trees.

She kept the ring in the basket out of sight because she didn’t want to have to explain where she got the ring and she didn’t think anyone would believe that a crow gave it to her. Also she somehow didn’t feel she had permission to wear such a beautiful ring and just holding it in her hand had been enough.

She could hear the crow off in the distance and a chill ran up her spine as she held her breath and tried to listen from what direction the call was coming from. She looked up quickly and saw him passing over her head as he looked down at her and flew directly to the fence post and landed. He turned his head sideways, examining the offering she had just left moments ago and then he looked at her and cawed towards her and snatched up the morsel and snapped his head back swallowed it whole.

Sarah smiled and whispered to the crow “Thank you, thank you so much for the ring.” The crow froze in place and slowly pulled all its feathers close into its body as it turned its head skyward. The forest which had been alive with sound of all the night creatures moments ago was now silent. Sarah held her breath as she felt the hair on the back of her arms rise up and she tried to listen for any sound but there was none, even the cows had stopped moving and they too were looking towards the sky.

“CAW CAW CAW” The crow loudly broke the spell “CAW CAW CAW” the crow was now looking straight at her at it continued what seemed to be a verbal assault towards Sarah. All the night creatures of the forest joined the crow and she was surrounded with a symphony of wild voices all seemingly directed at her.

The crow started flapping its wings all the while continuing to lead the now almost overwhelming chorus of thousands of wild voices that now included the cows who were making deep vibrating sounds Sarah had never heard before.

And then the crow launched itself straight up into the sky until it was positioned directly in front of the rising full moon and held its position there. Sarah was mesmerized as she stared at the crow who was still cawing loudly in concert with all of the other wild creatures.

Then she saw it, there was something behind the crow in the moonlight and it was moving closer. It was like a door had opened on a cold winters night and the fingers of winter were reaching in grasping at her body.

She caught her breath as the cold chilled her to the bone and suddenly it was silent again, dead silent. She saw a glow from her basket and when she looked down she saw that the ring was casting a warm glow over all the items in her basket. But what was even stranger was that each item in her basket also began to glow with a rainbow of colors that seemed to spill over the edge of the basket and onto the ground around her.

And then she heard a sound, a voice singing quietly and it was coming from above her. See looked up and saw the crow flying by impossibly slow as if the cold has froze time and she could follow his movements as if he was a painting in motion.

But as the voice became clearer it was still a whisper and she could hear the words as if they were being sung into her ear only inches away and she could feel the singers breath on her cheek.

Wear the ring and learn the truth
Wear the ring and find your way
Wear the ring and join us

The voice was so beautiful that when Sarah finally focused on the singer she could do nothing but smile as she watched her slowly glide by. The singer smiled back at Sarah and continued her song.

Wear the ring and learn the truth
Wear the ring and find your way
Wear the ring and join us

Sarah closed her eyes as the song continued until it faded into the rising sounds of the forest’s night creatures.

A warm breeze nudged her to open her eyes and a tear rolled down her cheek as she looked up at the full moon. Never before could she have imagined that such beauty existed in the world or that such beauty would be visited upon her.

Sarah had a lot to think about now because what was once just a collection of sticks, stones, and fungus was now a basket full of magic. She turned to leave and then stopped and smiled as she ran over to the fence post and reached into her pocket and broke off half of the biscuit she was saving for her supper and placed it carefully on the top of the fence post.

Sarah reached into the basket and retrieved the ring and held it in her fingers out towards the full moon and watched as it glowed and she smiled as she realized it wasn’t a ring she was holding, it was adventure waiting.

And it was hers for the taking.

This story is inspired by the accompanied image where I try to find at least 1000 words that may be hidden within.