Mavis Perkins had always believed in omens.
Anything and everything she saw was a portent. That black cat crossing the pavement ahead of her? A sign that her washing machine would soon break down. Butterfly flying in through the window? She must be due a tenner in the lottery. Three magpies perching on the roof of No. 8? Well, then they would soon be expecting a beautiful, bouncing, baby girl.
I saw her one Monday morning watering the hanging baskets by her front door when I was late for work. She gave me a wave and motioned to a stark black bird sitting solemnly in the budding tree between our front gardens.
“See that crow? Omen of death, that is. You best watch yerself, Nigel.”
“I will do Mavis, will do.”
I jumped into my car and reversed off the driveway. As I pulled away, I saw Mavis eyeing the visiting bird with a mixture of fear and apprehension.
Every day that week I saw the statuesque crow in the tree, when I left for work in the morning and returning home in the evening. It was odd for sure, but I left it in peace. But as the week progressed, Mavis Perkins became increasingly agitated. She would spy on the bird between the gaps her kitchen blinds. She would play loud noises on her phone in the hope of scaring it off. I even saw her combing her lawn for four-leafed clovers to try to ward off any deathly bad luck. One evening, she came charging out of her house with a broom and shoved it up into the branches.
“Be gone you foul creature!” she huffed, jabbing her broom furiously. “Shoo! Shoo!”
But the crow remained ever still, ever silent, watching her intently.
At the weekend, I decided to wash my car despite the somewhat gloomy weather. I paused beneath the leafless tree and the crow cocked his head towards me, staring with his intelligent beady eyes. I nodded curtly to him; he cawed quietly and ruffled his feathers in response. It was the first time I’d seen him move all week.
Ten minutes later, Mavis emerged from her house, car keys jingling in her hands. I saw her glance suspiciously at our avian neighbour.
“Morning Nigel,” she trilled.
“Morning Mavis,” I replied dutifully, “Off out?”
“Just popping to the shops, I’m out of catfood,” she said simply, shooting the crow another wary look.
She got into her little white Fiat and started the engine. To my surprise, the crow took flight with a loud caw like a battle cry. Within moments, more of the birds began to appear on the street. Twenty, then thirty of them swarming in the air. Mavis drove off down the road, oblivious, pursued by the plague of crows. Shrieking, they launched themselves towards the Fiat’s windscreen. I watched in horror and awe as Mavis put her foot down in shock, accelerated, swerved across the road and veered headfirst into the lamppost outside No. 8.
The murder of crows scattered into the grey sky. Death had come for Mavis in the fowl-est way.
But then, I guess she should’ve seen it coming.
Emma H, age 27, 17/01/2018
Written for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto “Crow” prompt. To check out the challenge, you can follow the link here:
For my first #writephoto entry of the year, I opted for a bit of dark humour. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been, but many thanks to Sue for the great prompt 🙂