I love ravens so I was excited to get to write something about them for today’s prompt. Ravens are pretty cool birds and scary smart so I decided to write a little story about them.
Did you know that ravens could talk? I saw a video on it years ago, something that came up on my newsfeed and disappeared with videos of other animals and pictures and posts of everyone else who was doing better than me. Anyways, this girl took a video of this raven she had apparently trained it by giving it shiny things and seeds and she would say hi and the raven would copy in it’s own croaked way and then she said bye and it did the same and flew away. But I know better now, she wasn’t teaching the raven how to speak, it was just letting her think she did.
I’ve always lived by ravens. I blame it on the town, they’ve always been here as common as a robin or Blue Jay in those suburban neighbourhoods but we just have ravens. I don’t know how long they’ve been talking to me, if it’s been always and I can only now understand them or if they’ve just started speaking slowly and stupidly like some sort of pet., hoping I’ll understand them. Maybe they just wanted me to hear them now, spoke up and projected so that I could hear.
I heard them croaking to themselves one morning right before the sun came up. It always annoyed me when they did that, like they knew it bugged me and they did it out of spite. I found out later that that’s exactly what they were doing but I didn’t know it then, just woke up to their croaking and cursed them as I always did and did my usual tossing and turning until I found myself asleep again. But sleep came slowly as the ravens gossiped, the rise and fall of their croaks vibrating my eardrums and just as I was about to shoo them all away (as I did back then when I was in a particularly bad mood, again, I know better now) I heard them say my name. They did it in their voice, all hoarse and croaking and it made my whole body turn cold.
They quieted after the one said my name, whispered in their own way like they knew I might hear them, like they knew they weren’t careful. So they were quietly croaking then but I heard them say my name sporadically while they talked until they flew away for the day.
I picked up more and more words each time their congress gathered. My house, the name of my neighbours kid, simple words like rock and food and shine until I understood full sentences. At first it was just talk about simple stuff, animals and shit and where to find worms and which ravens eggs had hatched and other stuff I didn’t care about, but then they started talking about my neighbours, about me. They talked about which of my neighbours had good garbage but they noticed things too. They noticed who were really friends and who just pretended to be, who poured vinegar on their eggs when they left their nests to eat, who was fucking who (animals know a lot about fucking). They were better gossips than the local PTA moms or church ladies that’s for sure and that’s because ravens know the details, they remember every little part of a story, and they don’t forget the ones who piss them off. Like the McLeod’s down the street who’s car they crapped on every morning, they were the ones that put vinegar on the eggs or Lily Peters who for a joke with her friends sped around the block seeing how ravens they could hit. They got three, and when the ravens get their chance they like to swoop down at her, tear off the shining necklaces that she wears. They’re trying for her earrings, but they’re harder.
And then one day they were talking about me, but not just me it was Colleen Engles across the street. They talked about how she watched me on her morning jogs, told everyone I was a hermit, and said awful things about the way I look, the way I talk, every little bit about me.
It got under my skin you know, like some kind of rash that spread throughout my body until it was the only thing I could think of. I didn’t like how Colleen could do that, say some stupid evil things that could hurt so badly and then I heard the ravens croaking like usual and just couldn’t handle it. So I emptied my jewelry box, every little thing. The earrings I wore to my baptism, my birthstone necklace, my mother’s old jewelry, the engagement ring I never wore and I threw it in the backyard while they were croaking. They kind of hovered in shock when they did, screamed and swore too since I knew what they were saying. But they didn’t leave, maybe it was something in my face or maybe they just knew I’d been listening, whatever it was they fluttered for a moment before landing when I shouted at them, “Take it! Take it all, just make her stop watching me.”
She was blind the next day. No one talked about how it happened, just something whispered tragedy people wanted to forget. But the ravens told me. They remembered every little detail.
So we have a deal now, the ravens and I. I give them something shiny, well, lots of somethings shiny. It costs a lot, but I don’t exactly need that much to get by. They help me, and I help them in the little ways we can.
The croaking’s nice to wake up to now.