Pardon me, friends! I’m quickly uploading this while sitting in the teacher’s lounge for lunch. Most of the students are off to a soccer match today, so I’ve been given the fortunate job of watching the teenage stay-behinds. 🙂
So, where were we…ah. Chloe’s mother Angela is finally entering her childhood home, the Crow’s Nest.
Writing Music: Rob Simonsen, Foxcatcher (I really need to get a hold of this soundtrack)
Angela Perdido Watchman gave little attention to the crow-filled room. “I’m better now, really,” she whispered to Thomas, but Chloe knew her dad didn’t believe her. He dropped one hand down only to keep his other arm snug around his wife’s shoulders.
But still, Angela was smiling–and to Chloe’s relief, a real smile, at that. She even took off her mittens and tucked them into her coat pocket. “Hi, Sal.”
Sal blinked back a couple tears, making his eyelashes sparkle like the snow. “Hi, Ang.”
The two shared a nervous laugh. “You got tall,” said Angela, looking up into his face. If not for constantly bowing his head down, Chloe was sure he’d be taller than her father Thomas.
Sal laughed a little more. “You got a clone.” And he nodded at Chloe.
For the first time since the phone call, Chloe felt like her mom saw her instead of whatever was going on in her head. All the black feathers and bones, all the fear around whomever called herself a mother in a house like this, didn’t have to matter, at least in this moment. “Had a little help,” she said, and nodded to her husband.
This time, Chloe’s father didn’t prove himself with a strong grip. Handshakes are hard when one’s being hugged by a lanky scarecrow.
“Uh, hi.” Thomas patted Sal awkwardly on the back while mouthing What the? to Chloe. Angela’s hand found Thomas’ on Sal’s back and threaded their fingers together to keep Sal close. He shuddered in their hold
“This place, Ang…” he said, and sobbed.
“I know.” Now Angela was starting up again. Chloe bit her lip, looking around for something to stop the damn panic. Her dad, too, was whispering lots of “come on, now” and “it’s just one night, okay? We’re together, we can do this.” He even managed to nudge their huddle far enough from the door for Chloe to close it.
Then Chloe remembered the man who practically carried her in, the not-Sal. “What about Reg?”
That broke the huddle in a hurry, much to Thomas’ relief. “Reg!” Ang said. “How is he?”
“Reg is…Reg.” Sal bit his lip. “He got here first.”
“Oh no…” Angela’s eyes searched the stairs, her body began to shake—
“I think he went in there, Mom.” Chloe grabbed the iron handle for the sliding door and tugged…and tugged…she even set her bundle down to try with both hands. ”I think he did.
Chloe’s dad joined her. “Let’s all look in here first,” he said, and with Chloe tugging and Thomas pushing, they finally managed to open the partition enough for a person to walk through properly. Three of the old scrawls of crows crumpled and broke free of their pins to fly a few inches before coming to a rest at Sal’s feet.
“We never did try pinning them to the floor…” he said absently.
Thomas stared at Sal until Chloe gave him a little kick to stop. “And you don’t have to now, either, because tomorrow we’re all leaving. Right Ang?”
Angela walked by all of them without a word but “Reg?” They followed her into the living room, though Sal kept to the walls, fingers tracing the tattered paper decorated with a strange stencil of a “Y” with an extra line in the middle.
The room had to be as big as the Watchman’s apartment if all the rooms were stacked in a cube. The ceiling was just as high as the foyer here, but thanks to the blazing fire in the large fireplace, Chloe felt warm enough to unbutton her coat and set it on the dusty couch. “Reg?” she said, joining her mom and the others. He wasn’t hiding behind the two easy chairs, or under the desk Thomas tapped. Even the few bookcases gave no sign of him…or books, for that matter. Instead, the shelves were pinned with more pictures of crows, so many they were pinned in layers upon each other. She lifted a few. Her mom must have made at least some of these. What a hell, to be stuck drawing crows over and over and over…
Big, yellow eyes, squat liike eggs, with sharp black circles for pupils. They stared at from the paper like the snowy owl atop the truck, mindful, amused, curious—
Some distant door in the kitchen slammed. “Getting more wood!” Sumac called, and slammed away again.
“Who is that?” Angela asked.
Sal made a face. “Oh, you haven’t even seen the doctor yet. I’m sure he’ll be down shortly.”
Chloe backed away from the drawings and turned towards the mirror windows. A form moved across them in the dark–that Sumac, likely, for wood. Three worn, broken chairs surrounded a circular game table covered by a lace tablecloth. When Chloe lifted it, the dust left a perfect shadow pattern of the lace.
The grown man who carried Chloe in sat curled up underneath. Sweat beaded from his head down his glasses to drip on his knees. His forehead twitched as he spoke through gritted teeth. “You’re not Angela, you, FAKE!” The table flew back as he leapt up, hands out for Chloe’s neck.
Word Count: 865 Total Count: 4751
Break time’s almost up! I’m rather hoping I don’t have to sub tomorrow so I can 1) grade for the university and 2) finally catch up with you folks!
Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!