Within a dark room, the walls painted green, a man sat in an old creaky armchair. He sat in front of the glass double doors that lead out onto the balcony. Behind him the covers of the bed were tossed. They were dusty and not the color they had originally been–rose. They had taken on the tone of his skin, for he had not washed them for many years. He was incapable of doing so.

Outside he watched a murder of ravens watching him. He watched throw the glass. They watched the glass, the pale light reflecting off it though there were clouds. The clouds were low. They dispersed the light of the sun so evenly not even shadows existed here.

One of the black birds croaked. It might have been a word, it might have been a belch. The man inside the room knew what it was. It was the cry of a child to its parents. It was a plea. It was something he’d avoided his whole life.

Another of the black birds let out a sound, this one like a mewing cat. It shifted it’s feet on the roof of the old depot, leaving true crow feet marks there in the dust. Despite the constant clouds it never rained. The shingles of the roof were worn with time and wind, for there was always wind pushing the clouds east. But they never seemed to end.

The man within the dim room who sat in the chair and had no family other than that  of the birds rose to his feat. He’d waited for the ravens to return. He’d waited for this moment for years. Finally they’d come. He rose to his creaky legs, thin a pallid from lack of use and sun. His robe dangled around his ankles. He had not grown, shrunk, or changed for one hundred years–or had it been longer?

He didn’t know. He rattled the knobs of the glass doors. The ravens all stood still, watching, turning their heads from side to side, alternating eyes. The door was locked. It had been so long he’d forgotten he’d locked it. Reaching a spidery hand into his robe pocket he drew out a door key like any other. He fit it in the lock, puzzling at it as he had before. The insides of rooms seldom needed keys. But then, what had had made his home was not a common place. It was his place. He had made it so and drove the people of the town away so long ago. He had been mad then, and perhaps he still was for this robe was not like skin. It was not his own. It was just a dusty rag he had found in the mansion. He had poured too much of himself into his the birds and when the lightning had struck they had been scattered.

He turned the key in the knob. His heart was a lump in his throat. The doors creaked as they opened. As he stepped forward he let the robe he was wearing fall to the ground, revealing his frail, naked body to the day. The ravens flapped and hopped forward slowly at first. Then in a flurry of razor sharp wings they launched themselves toward the man and he welcomed them back.


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