Writing Prompt No. 22
Once a day, usually in the morning around half past nine, the woman from No.22 carefully rests peanuts in a line along the fence rail that surrounds her house.
The corvids like to visit her. All of them. Magpies, crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks. They watch her for a week or two before approaching the fence rail. And the woman. Now it’s been some months gone and the birds visit her in a small flock, fifteen at a time, busying themselves, collecting the nuts in their beaks, taking them away to store for the cold winter.
One morning, as the birds fly down to collect their daily treasure, a new bird appears. It swoops and glides before settling down with a clatter of claws on top of the fence rail. The woman thought it looked like a rook but unlike one she’d ever seen before. This one was completely white apart from its beak which was a shiny charcoal grey. It’s eyes were blue and shone out from its gleaming white feathers. The woman approaches the bird, one slow step at a time, holding out a stiff, arthritic hand. She clutches a handful of peanuts. The bird remains still on the fence rail, its eyes steady on the woman. Without warning the bird reaches out its wings and flies at the woman from No.22.
“You!” the woman looks up in surprise at its voice, “I know you keep him here.” The woman turns and looks over her shoulder. The most beautiful bird sits on a perch in a cage at the kitchen window. Red, green and brilliant blue feathers. The bird, the white bird with the charcoal grey beak, flies at the window hard breaking the glass. The most beautiful bird reaches out a wing to the white bird and together they fly into the sky.
The woman drops her hand, peanuts spill out over her feet. She wipes away a tear that begins to roll down a sun-lined cheek. The flock of birds who had flown to a safe distance when the white queen appeared, fly back down again one by one. They gather around the woman holding out their wings creating a warm, dark, comforting space.
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