Sometime Last Week Part 7

Friendship is Magic


I turn back, but the shepherd is trekking back across his field, toward his rock. Did he mean my mother is proud of me? Did I mishear him? I must have. Or maybe he does know of the Margravine. Perhaps the birds have been speaking to others. I never thought of that. It’s not like they are MY birds. They can speak to whoever they want, I suppose. Really, I don’t think I’m jealous, so I’m just going to go to the store, and maybe ask Henwyn when I get back.


The store is quite quaint. Can I use the word “quaint” now that I’ve been to Wales? I think I will. It’s very accurate. It’s actually made of stones, not those pre-formed concrete building blocks that look like stones but are all the same, either. These stones are old and rough and all different sizes and covered in green moss, or lichen. How does one tell the difference between moss and lichen? Inside, it’s just a store. There are shelves and food and a refrigerated back wall. I’m a little disappointed. I wanted the store to be strange. As strange as the shepherd.


Henwyn isn’t in the cottage attic when I get back, but Sybil is. The pink crane is annoyed with me as always. He responds indignantly when I ask about the shepherd.


“Why would we speak to anyone? We don’t even want to speak to you. But Her Grace chose you so we must adjust ourselves. It hasn’t been pleasant, but I, at least, have come to understand most of your words. What does ‘shepherd’ mean? That word has a strange feel to it. Is it a common name in this world?”


I’m a little surprised by Sybil’s question and answer it automatically.


“It’s just someone who takes care of sheep. I don’t know. There aren’t many sheep around. But maybe here it’s pretty common. Or maybe they use a different word? I guess it also means a leader, someone who takes care of a group. I never thought about it.”


He answers with a flip of wing that I don’t understand, and turns to one of the other birds. I guess I’m done talking too, so I should just go back down stairs. As I back down the ladder, I glance around at the other birds. All the birds in the attic, besides Sybil, are ravens, and there are quite a few. I start counting and get to fourteen before Sybil turns around and spots the half of me still sticking through the hatch between the attic and the rest of the cottage.


“You know it’s generally considered rude to hang about in doorways. In or out? Make a choice.”

Make a choice? In with the birds, or out in the cottage? Is it really my choice to make? In or out? These are not my birds. These are not even the birds that came to my attic two months ago. Or maybe they are? Where did the ravens go when Nevermore disappeared? In or out?


I climb back up into the attic and sit on a joist near the east window. Sybil huffs and turns back to the raven at his side. Is it that easy? Why did I feel locked out of the attic back home? This attic is welcoming and I like the way sunlight comes through the slats in the window. The birds shuffle around but don’t seem too concerned with me. I reach towards the nearest raven. She’s sleek and cunning, with a hump to her beak. She had been preening, and just like any bird would, she stops and looks at my hand. Then she tips her head up to look me in the eye, and asks,


“What are you doing?”
These are not my birds.


I apologize and look back out the window. The raven tips her head the other way, still watching me. She hops onto the window sill and looks down into the yard. My mother is finally pulling the curtains off the clotheslines and piling them in a plastic tub that she found in the cottage’s washroom. We watch together for a moment before she speaks.


“It’s hard to be chosen isn’t it? You don’t understand us and we don’t understand you.”


“Mm, I think I’m learning though. What happened to Nevermore? Why are you here? All the ravens were gone, but here you all are.” I respond.


The raven turns back to face the attic and muses, “Ravens? Nevermore returned home, but we of her faction came here. Nevermore felt a spark here, but Fireflight and the others decided to stay with the house that called us… your house I suppose it was.”


The raven pecks my hand gently and flies across the attic, just like the pet cockatiel I had years ago used to do. I stare at my hand and suddenly realize she wants me to follow her. Across the attic, she is at the other window looking back at me. I really am learning to understand them!


At the other window we both gaze west. This side of the house faces open land with nothing in view but a small curve of the road and some hills in the distance. The raven, I suppose I shall have to name her too, places her foot on the wooden slats over the window pushing them open. Several of the ravens swooped past us out of the attic and away towards the horizon. Nope, I don’t understand them. I missed whatever signal they had to have given that they were leaving. I ask the raven, still standing at the open window, where they are going.


“Do you see that hill there? The small one next to the one that looks like the Mohawk. Beyond that hill, there is a cave, and that cave is the spark that Nevermore felt. We watch but do not enter there. Today we came to report but now we must return to watching.”


She turns to look at me again and gives one last sentence before leaping into the air to follow the others.


“The shepherd calls me Tivvy, and you can too.”


Louise Warren

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