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I like watching the crows.
They are so at ease that it makes me feel calm. It makes me wonder what their lives are like, what they do. That crow there, with the long beak- does it like its family? Does the one sitting by itself in that other tree wish it was popular? Does it even care? Does it even matter?
I wish I were a crow sometimes. Often, in fact. I wish I could fly and survive on my own and not have to care what others thought. I wish I could have black feathers and not care how I look.
My life would be so much easier. I would have much more freedom. If anyone- dad, or the mean girls- tried to hurt me, I could just fly away. Or peck them. I would be free.
I would be strong.
Girls giggle across the street. They have bright red nails and super straight hair and dark eyeliner. They flick open their cell phones and gossip about everything. I wish I were a crow so I could poop on their new dresses.
One of them looks at me and they all laugh. All of the sudden I feel self conscious. I realize that I look nothing like them- messy black hair, nobby nose, suspiciously dark eyes. One of them, Bianca, slides her blue eyes from my head to my toes, sneering. They all stare at my frayed jeans- they belong to my mom- and my baggy t- shirt. A slow-motion hair flip later and they are laughing together as if I never existed.
I run the rest of the way, over to Mr. Terry’s corner store. My fingers rub the 5 dollar bill I have in my pocket- stolen from my dad’s liquor fund. He’ll be mad when he finds out. If he finds out. He will probably hit me- but by then I will have finished the candy I am buying and it won’t matter.
I get a few chocolate bars and run home. Mom asks me how my day was, staring at the old photo of our family as if she cares about me and isn’t missing little Henry. He’s dead, I want to yell. Get over him! You still have us! I miss him too, but I need you. We need you. Why can’t you see that?!
“Good, “I say automatically. I think about Emily ignoring me like we didn’t used to be best friends, Bianca laughing at me for the bad mark I got on the science test, and Jack telling me he wanted to just be friends. “Better than usual,” I add.
Crows- I watch them. One watches back. She has silky black feathers and a graceful, proud air. She is beautiful. She looks back at me, sharply, but her eyes are soft. I feel warm inside, like butter is melting on my icy heart. I like it.
I want to be able to fly over to her and let her look at me like that up close. I want to have her as a mother, and live with the other birds. I want to feel like they all care about me, have myself get to know them by their smells and them know me the same way. I want to be their sister, their daughter, their friend.
I want to be a crow.
I like watching the humans.
They are so busy, always on the move. They are beautiful, different, unique. They have no system or template for their lives. They can sleep in, walk wherever. They can adapt to anything, I think.
Sometimes I wish I wish I were one of them. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to walk around and be able to stay, to watch everything. This energy that I see passing between them, that buzz that drifts between each of their lives; I want to feel that. I want to wear colourful fabric on my body, and have everyone smile at me and ask how my day was. Crows don’t smile. I wish I could.
We sit on the tree branches for a bit, taking a break from flying. The young ones play and crawl around. I look at the human children.
One catches my eye. She has black hair that could be feathers, silky and slightly ruffled. Almost-black eyes, full of emotion and sorrow, but also with a stash of love and joy hidden inside. If only she could unlock that secret compartment of happiness, I think she would smile. I don’t know, though. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just a crow who thinks she’s human.
I watch her from her window- a sheet of glass that separates us and yet allows us to see into each other. I see the sadness, the strength, the hope. Poor thing- she is so thin, and it makes me wonder how she survived. I had a daughter like her once; beautiful, deep, untouchable. A bit sad. Thin. And now; gone.
I find myself feeling a bit of compassion: a drop, big for a crow but small for a human. I want to sit next to this girl and talk about life, and understand it, as humans can do. I want to hug her, let her cry on my shoulder; I want to be able to hug, and cry. I want arms. I want a body with skin, beige or ivory or tan or lovely dark brown. I want hair to play with and toenails to paint. I want a heart big enough to break; or big enough to be full of love and life.
I want to be human.