He was being chased. Through the dark woods he ran, nearly caught as he reached his front door. He leaped up the stairs and hid beneath the blankets.
He woke up, the dream still vivid, but kept his eyes tight shut.
In the silence he heard the door handle turn.
Written for Scottish Book Trust 50-word competition April 2022
Aiden the crow landed on the balcony railings, his beautiful, miraculous claws tiptapping as he sidled along, eyes bright.
Claire knew that look. It was the look of a young man evening-eager for a night out or a quiet night in, anything she liked as long as they were together. She remembered that look so well, the look that had captured her heart forever.
The crow’s feathers were mostly glossy black, tropical night black, reflecting back the setting sun like polished coal, the colour of a young man’s hair when they had first met, a fringe for a while and then a mohawk. Later of course grey appeared, in patches at first, and it seemed the crow was on the same path. The look and the colours. Claire was sure.
Aiden the crow tapped again and cocked his head, asking for something – probably not the beer she had poured into the aluminium ashtray, still marked with too many late-night cigarettes, although historically it would have been. She sat on the balcony on the hard kitchen chair, face wet, hands gripping the railings. The crow tiptapped impatiently, expectantly.
Aiden flexed his wings and took off, soared and tilted, wingtip pointing almost straight down at the concrete five storeys below, and fixed her with his mirror-black eye. She understood and smiled and stepped onto the chair and held out her arms then for a moment, for the longest of moments, for the rest of eternity, she flew.
the sun sets softly
a young bird’s feather on the cheek
as the evening breeze rises
when we are gone there will still be rainbows
light fractured through our loved ones’ tears
He was a man in that way that energy rises
rust-red from the earth beneath his black toe-capped boots
A man to his palms and his knuckles and fingers
scarred by rivets he had caught and men’s heads he had broke
Real boys don’t cry he shouted as he cuffed me for crying
and boys hit first in the face no forgiveness
but as he lay helpless, clenched fists on the bedsheets
as the energy soaked down through the world he had conquered
as I finally knew what was his was now my world
as my face lost its colour remember he said
what I’ve often told you that real boys don’t cry
one last thing to remember
a brochure extolling the delights of Dumfries and Galloway and why I really need to go
an explanation of how my small monthly direct debit donation will help teach people in developing countries to sew
and one I have not opened yet
because you never know
It’s that day
that special day again
that once a yearly day again
with hearts and flowers
and hearts on cards
when you will say to me
you love me
and I will say to you
I love you
It’s that day again
just like every day
I love you
higher in the hills
a season’s rain has fallen
tonight the river through the village will rise
and, white, will wash the rounded rocks
the moss on the downstream sheltered sides will remain
a branch falls
a shower of crows
spout up from their strutting place
flap stuttering a short yard or two
and settle again
in the stubble