As the Crow Flies

Based on the picture prompt. This is a work in progress and I'm publishing it purely to see what you think so far!


1. 1

A ripped train of wedding dress intertwines with the charcoaled tail of stallion as black meets white meets grey under a brooding sky. I can feel my very own black beauty pumelling his hooves inch deep into the earth beneath us, something I should worry about, considering the greatness of our escape, but the wind roars too loud and the click-clack of horse too quiet in comparison to let my thoughts settle in their righteous places. With one hand embracing the reins and the other on my own miniature horseshoe, a talisman cold and heavy against my throat, we gallop on. It would be thirty minutes west as the crow flies, they'd said, and these words ring in my ears like a mantra. As the crow flies. Such is the nature of these creatures, they begin to circle my trusty steed and I, crying out in unison. But for what? Being the great believer in fate and chance and meaning that I am, never can I let something pass as coincidence. Perhaps that's what led me here.

Gazing at a word for so long can cause the letters to become distorted and the word itself as if from a language entirely foreign to one's own. The opposite can happen for sounds, I find. What at first was the cawing of crows became the cackling. They were laughing at me, and then they weren't. They were taunting. A whisper. “Jilted...”

The ordeal had enflamed my heart, and yet there was to be no tragic Dickensian death-in-the-fireplace for me. Abandoned, or rather, never given a chance to be abandoned. Our relationship was on the rocks as it was – marriage was supposed to be our life raft, our safety net. In a world where religion outweighed everything else it was only to be expected. For some reason the general notion was that a family could only survive propped up against an official looking document. Although we had avoided it for years, by the time morning sickness had come into play and I'd adopted smocks and his checkered flannel shirts as more than simply loungewear, he was already down on one knee. 

We were approaching the gate now, the three of us. The sky had darkened considerably since I'd first mounted and those godforsaken crows were swirling upwards into oblivion. I disembark clumsily and stand side on to the house while I pat Bailey's mane. I am well aware that my side profile is less than desirable in these latter stages of pregnancy – the curve of my breasts are insignificant compared to that of my swollen stomach. With muttered apologies I loop a rope around Bailey's neck and tie him to the peeling fence, before following the garden path beyond. Thank goodness my fiancee had arranged a horse and cart ensemble for the wedding; even if he couldn't quite manage to turn up, he at least gave me something to help get the hell out of there. Callous bastard.

After two raps on the door and some contrived social pleasantries, all I can see is burning. I bathe under the beams, hands sprawled out over the pasty layer of skin that encases my child. A crow lands on the skylight window and gazes down at us, its eyes onyxes. In a feeble attempt to extinguish the flames flickering in my mind's eye, I immerse myself in the greying bathwater – but to no avail. 

Flames may not have licked me up as if I were Miss Havisham, but they did the church. What I can say for certain is that you wouldn't think you'd be capable of arson until you've committed it. As a moralistic and law abiding citizen, least of all me. Betrayal is a lighter in itself, though, and my sense of that was certainly ignited. Once the organist had played her hymns thrice over and I remained alone at the altar, any glimmer of hope had given up and hung itself inside me. Along with fate, and chance, and meaning, I am also a dedicated supporter of metaphor.




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