Black Birds

October 14, 2009
By , B., CA
Almost a full grown up girl at fifteen years old, I did not believe in God and had grown out of magic.

I tried to keep ahold of that thought while I stared at this house.

I had passed it by a thousand times before, hadn't I? It had just blurred into the background, just another street, just another house. Hadn't it?

Crows. Didn't I remember the crows? A line of them sat on the telephone pole, staring at me. They seemed like old forgotten friends, the kind you pick up with where you left off with an easy sense of familiarity.

This house . . . what was it about this house?

It was old, victorian-style, but turned completely modern. The walls were painted over smooth white, while the columns were plum purple. In the backyard kids' toys were strewn everywhere, a natural wood fence blocking me from them. And the porch . . .

“It looks just like the porch I picture Scarlett O'Hara sitting on, talking to the twins.” I remember saying to him. Him?

The old style porch swing, where Belle fell and hit her chin. Belle. My baby. The name tasted like honey.

A face appearing at a window reminded me that I was not at ease to just randomly stop and stare at people's houses. I started walking quickly away, trying to shake away ghost memories that were rising up in me. Fleeting. Not real.

No, I remembered something, from a few years ago, something real. The house was being sold, and my mom had said something to me about the previous owners. Something about a tragedy.

“Stop it.” I told myself. I watched as the crows took off from post, swooping and swirling as a group. Naturally, without even noticing it, my eyes focused on one. The rest of the crows disappeared, but this bird, he flew in another direction, circling, circling, until I knew exactly what he would be above. I stood at the cross roads.

Which way to decide? Left would take me to where the crow went, right would take me home.

A car drove down the road, kicking up water on the side of the road. It startled me out of my trance. I turned left.

Splish, splash, splish, splash, squeak, squeak, squeak went my boots. A slight drizzle fell on my nose. Having walked half-way home from school in the pouring rain (only to have it stop when I got close to my house) my hair was soaking wet.

Splish, splash, splish, splash, squeak. Colors seemed brighter, clearer, and yet somehow more distant. There was something restless, agitated in me, that made me want to run. Run to where I knew I was going.

The crow sat over the entrance to the library, looking awfully pleased with himself, as I pushed the door open. A warm burst of air hit me, and I smiled. I loved the library, I loved the books. I loved the feeling of warmth, the feeling of learning, the feeling that something hidden, something secret was close to being discovered.

“Lillian?” that voice like a thousand angels.

Ghosts of letters I had written so long ago, 'I have loved you since the day I met you, a year ago today.' I wanted to gag as I remembered the words, 'just friends'.

'You love me, you love me, you love me and you know it.' Wild accusations I wanted to hurl at him. Of course he loved me. Secrets whispered, words told, all for him, all to him. How could he not love me? How could he not? He just didn't. Impossibly simple.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, surprised. But somehow I had known he was going to be here. The only reason I had come.

“Getting a book?” he asked, “But I'm leaving now. You?”

“Just came in to warm up. Of course as soon as I get here it stops raining.” He said nothing, “I'm probably going to go, though, before it starts raining again.”

“Cool.” he said, “Just waiting for my mom.”

'Come with me, come with me, don't leave me, don't walk away. Take my hand, say you love me, say you love me and will never leave.'

“Anyway, see you later.” I pushed the door open and I felt like crying. Ghosts, houses, crows. What was I thinking? It was ridiculous.

I had to pass by that house again, the house I had been staring at. No way of getting around it, it was on the only route home. Plus, I wanted to, just to prove that sometimes, when you think that you've found the one, they don't love you back. No matter how magical it seems.

I stopped in front of it again. I couldn't help myself. Flashes, flashbacks, memories, ideas, stories, imaginations.

'I love you.' said that voice of an angel.

'I do, I do, I do, I do.' I see his face as he says those words, my heart pounding.

'Beautiful, beautiful.' Staring up at this same house, the sun glinting off the windows.

'Are we seriously going to buy this house, baby?' he asked me, kissing my hand.

'Yes, we most seriously are.' my eyes glinting with humor at him.

'I can't believe it.'

'She's the most beautiful baby in the entire world.' Brown eyes, the color of his eyes, stared up at me from the girl in my arms.

'I love her.'

'I love her, too. Completely and utterly.'

Heart pounding. Heart beating, 'Sweetheart, are you watching Belle?'

'Of course I am, honey.'

Rattling, screams, yells, numbness. Thud.


Sitting next to a white hospital bed, wondering where he was, holding her hand. Hoping she'd live. Hoping she'd live.

Eyes flew open, the same brown color I had loved since I had first met him. Hugging here, and then a whirlwind, that crow staring at me cackling.

It was so stupid, so fake, how could that weird day dream, story, whatever it was affect me? But quite suddenly I sinking down on my knees in the middle of the street, crying like it really was my daughter who almost died.

A car driving by suddenly stopped. Of course it was him, his car, his life, his daughter. Him, him, him, always and forever him.

His mom came out, making me cry harder. How could I do this?

“Honey, are you alright?” I shook my head, wanting to stop, wanting to get up and go. But I couldn't.

I looked up, and suddenly there he was, tears silently pouring down his cheeks too. His mom looked between the both of us, putting two and two together, “You are walking home.” she informed him. I loved her, how she bossed him around, how she cut him down when he was getting so big headed, how she obviously loved him. Loved him like I couldn't.

She got in the car and drove away. Tears kept on pouring down, down, sobs echoing. Finally they abated, and I stared up at him, wondering what he was thinking. Why is my best friend randomly crying in the middle of the street, for one.

He stood, eyes shut tight like he was in pain, “No.” he said, clearly, calmly even, “I don't love you.”

A million shards of the pieces of my heart falling down, as if someone had just smashed a glass bowl against my head.

And then he turned and walked away. Just. Like. That.

A crow flew down, and for some reason I was convinced it was the same crow I had seen all day, “I told you before,” It spoke, the street between him and I stretching and blurring, until it felt like infinity between us with each step he took, “When you turned back time, that no matter what you do, there would be pain.”

He paused. But then he kept walking.

“NO!” I screamed, “She lived! She's there, somewhere, we're there somewhere! The way we were before! I didn't mean what I said, I just wanted the pain, the pain. . .” I was crying again, feeling like my entire world was crumbling down around me, nothing right, the pain unbearable. I wished, prayed even, with every cell of my being that his arms would suddenly be around me.

Looking up, he was gone. He had kept going, after all that. Just gone, leaving me with tear drops in my hands.

Throughout life I carry this lesson. That some words are best spoken right away, and some words better left unsaid.

But, mostly, I know that true love doesn't mean happiness. In fact, true love means pain.

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michelle_my_belle said...
Nov. 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm
"'I WISH I HAD NEVER MET YOU, I WISH YOU HAD NEVER SEEN ME, LOVED ME, WHY, WHY, WHY?'" has such a beautiful rhythm. It's going to be stuck in my head.
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