Fiction | Short Story

A Gathering of Crows

‘…The dream is a dark lagniappe. The crows are in flight. There are hundreds of them…hundreds of them…flying in a circle It’s early…early in the morning…or evening… I can’t be sure of which… the, the, clouds are touched with gold and steel. I see their eyes…their three lobed eyes blink with slick greasy ease… their […]

Father Douglas solemnly stared at Dawn from his red leather wingback chair.His large oval, opal eyes glistened. Dawn watched Father Douglas carefully. She noted that his partially bald head had a trace of sweat; and that for the third time in half an hour, he looked as if he was on the verge of saying something. His lips were parted, almost trembling. Words were being fought against with a shake of his head, that reminded Dawn of an attempt to defend oneself against an angry wasp in late summer. She chose to release the situation from him.

In penumbra, from the lead-lined window, Father Douglas McIntyre Brooded at Dawn’s back as she left the tiny church of St Andrews and walked down the path and left towards church Street.His eyes narrowed as the grandfather clock ticked the seconds off in dark regularity.
               Dawn left the small church. She covered her fetching thick chestnut, tousled hair, with the hood of her black fur-lined winter coat.Her sharp clicking shoes, becoming a resonating echo down the narrow concrete path. How long had it been?Two years, yes two years since Davey’s sudden death.His body found in his attic bedroom. No trace of a weapon… nothing found…. Not a fingerprint nor a footprint…despite the blood…. The blood. She remembered the day too well. The phone call…the police… going to the Mortuary, in Exeter, to view the corpse. His face…. his handsome, youthful, face.Broken.Savaged.Dented with vile, viscous the filled blows.What caused that hate? Why?Davey was an innocent. She blocked that image. She didn’t want to see that dead face. She wanted to see Davey, as she remembered him.The bright cornflower eyes, the brown scraggly mop of hair on top. The pointed chin and the narrow nose beneath.The wry smile or that cheeky grin. White teeth. Smiles and laughter…Yes…Smiles and laughter. Then there was a return of loss and the sudden stab of heartache that came with it. His loss brought the end to her family. She was all alone.Alone with nothing but the dry crusty church; and the crumbling faces of theparishioners for company. Most of whom, it had to be said, or, at least considered, were unable to try to resolve, either her anger or her frustration.No, she corrected herself, there were two. Father Douglas, who had listened, given support and occasionally prayed with her and, of course, Dorothea…Doretha…Why hadn’t she mentioned Dorothea to Father Douglas?after all, it was her funeral today. Dorothea’s cracked face and tired eyes shone.Another pang came.As she walked towards the village shops, her forest green eyes with their own crow’s feet, became misty.Perhaps …perhaps I’m afraid to…. Though that’s silly…She looked at her watch. 10:35… time enough for a tea in the Cake house before the funeral- 
 The clientele  Dawn included stared towards the front of the shop; just as the middle pane exploded inwards. Glass splinters shattered and scattered. The cake house became silent. People stared. A crow stood in the broken window frame.Thenarrowbeak bobbed, the wingsflapped aggressively.It Cawed, raising its head as it did so.Another Crow came, Thenanother, and another. They stood there. Looking in at the people sitting at their tables aggressively claiming their demesne; their heads motionless. Their three lobed eyes black blinking, greasy grey black. All three stared directly at Dawn. Then suddenly they rose. One at a time, they circled inside the shop. Flying low, scratching at the heads of the clientele as they did so.Cutting the soft skin with theirrazor sharp talons.With a squeal, Dizzy ducked, as one attacked her hair.While another went for an old gentleman sitting by the entrance; as the third, once it had completed its circuit, stood on the counter staring at Dawn. Blinking its black eyes.Then they flew out, one at a time. 
             The following silence was numbing. 
             ‘-Me god’s’ said one. 
             ‘-That be bad. Said another. 
             A third silently wept in shock.