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Step. Step. Left and then right. Jump over the crack. I really couldn't tell you where my mind was. It changed so often and well, I suppose I could never remember anyway. It was dark, but I couldn't tell you the time. Or even where I was. Let's see, there were no lights on, so I guess it was pretty late. I mean all the lights were off. It must be late.
I passed each tiny house, recognizing none. They were all spread out evenly, with the woods in the back. But each one looked the same to me. Perfect and plain. Plain and perfect.
'CAW!!' I looked up to see a bird in the trees. A crow was perched there, staring intently at me. 'CAW!' it cried out to me.
'What is it?' I asked back. Suddenly images flashed in my mind. Like flipping through a photo album in a second. Or watching your life flash before your eyes. Except it wasn't my life. It was a command. 'Oh!' I gasped. 'Alright, I understand.' I walked towards the crow but it flew off into the woods behind a house. I followed it as it wound slowly through the trees, until it landed in a clearing where another crow stood proudly. Together they turned to me. Eyeing me intently.
Suddenly the crows started to twist and morph, great blobs of feathers, until two small children stood before me. They were both dressed in long, flowing black robes covered in black feathers. Their skin a pale, pale white. There was a girl with long black hair that hung down to her waist. The other child, a boy, had short black hair. They both had large, cold black eyes that watched me unblinkingly. They took in everything with those wide eyes. And they saw everything.
'Hello.' The girl said in an eerily calm voice. It was not the voice of a child. No, it was the voice of someone much wiser, and older.
'We've been waiting for you.' The boy finished in the same tone. The same wise voice.
'I know.' I had been waiting for this my entire life. Something was meant to happen and this was it. I was never meant to stay here. Amongst these perfect houses. The children smiled, their eyes gleaming.
'You have been chosen-' the girl started,
'-to be our lord's mistress.' The boy continued,
'His Queen.' They said together. I stared at them, a smile spreading across my face. It felt odd there, I couldn't tell you the last time I had smiled.
'I accept such an honor.' I replied, bowing my head. Their grins widened, past normal limits/
'I am Kakali and this is Manal. Our Lord of the Crows is the God Loki.' The girl explained. 'Before our lord can take you as his queen you must be purified. You will return tomorrow and we will start the purification process.' She continued.
'Alright, I will return tomorrow.' And with that the children morphed back into crows and took off, to pass the message onto their lord. The message of my acceptance. I left, wandering away. I don't know what happened after that, I can't remember.
I rolled out of bed drowsily. I guess it was morning. Well the light was coming in through the window. So it must be. I meandered down the sickly lit hall, the carpet was worn with strange stains. The walls had serious smoke damage and were, I could only guess, once a beige color.
'Is that you?' a voice screeched. I kept walking. 'Answer your mother you good for nothing whore!' she shrieked. I let out a sigh and walked into Miranda's bedroom. She was sprawled out on a bed that hadn't been remade in months. Beer cans and vodka bottles littered the ground. A floor length mirror hung on the wall at a drunken angle, it was shattered, the glass joining the bottles on the ground.
'Why the hell aren't you in school? You get knocked up or something?' her voice was a high pitched wail. She wore a thin, dirty tank-top and tiny, stained shorts. Her hair was a scraggily dull brown. I looked at the women apathetically. I turned and walked out. She continued to wail but she must have found a bottle that still had something left.
I left the house and continued on to school. But the day was a haze. It was a blur. One huge blur. People coming and people going. They were all the same, all the same. I heard them whispering though. Promises from Manal and Kakali. I could hear them.
Come. Purify yourself and join us. They whispered. It was wonderful. Listening to their soft voices, voices that no one else heard. Promising something I could believe in.
Mumbling. Someone was speaking. I suppose it was to me. Hmm, I focused to see a women sitting in front of me. She had a short red bob and business type clothes on.
'You've been coming here for months, yet you've never said a word. You need to talk with me. A lot has happened; your father leaving and your illness escalating. You have been taking you're medication, haven't you?' she rambled. I looked at the picture behind her. I idly wondered when she would bore of me, like the last therapist. They talk and they talk, always expecting me to finally break down and pour my heart out to them. How 'everything is so hard.' and 'was it my fault they split up?' But I always stay silent, at most, occasionally listening. So then they leave. You can't help someone who won't let you into their mind.
'Okay you can go now, but remember to take your medication, you should almost be out. Make sure you refill the prescription.' And I left.
Left and right. Left and a right. I would be purified tonight. Clean. I would be clean, for my lord. My Lord of the Crows.
'CAW!' my head jerked up to see a familiar black bird in the trees.
'I'll be there tonight.' I promised it. It nodded and flew away. I walked into the house. My feet made no noise as I walked to the room I slept in. The bright orange container caught my attention. I picked the full bottle up. Take 2 a day it pronounced. I tossed it over my shoulder. Never had one of those pills.
I sank to the ground and sat there. Taking deep breaths, calming my mind.
'Where the hell have you been?' Miranda cried. I got up and left. Left and right. Hop over the crack. And another. So many cracks, breaking the perfection of the cement.
I wandered into the woods then. Not really sure where I was. It didn't really matter. It was before the time the crows wanted me but I didn't want to be near all those perfect houses. All in a row. Their blank faces staring you down. Conveying the emptiness inside. A mask for the dark feelings within.
The trees were welcoming. Their branches bent to brush lovingly across my face. I sat amongst the leaves, content.
The next time I focused on where I was it was dark, and a crow was waiting for me. I stood and followed it. Again Manal and Kakali were waiting for me. I walked over to them and they had me sit before them. They produced a wooden bowl and a long black feather.
'It's time for-' Kakali started,
'-the purification process.' Manal finished. I nodded. Manal held the bowl as Kakali dipped the feather into it. It was covered in a dark red liquid. She brushed it across my cheeks as she whispered in a language I didn't understand. And yet I did. She spoke words of healing, of cleansing. Of hope.
I blinked my eyes open to see a cracked ceiling. I was in the bed I slept in. The house, I lived in. But in my hand was a feather. A black crow's feather. I looked at my fingers to see them covered in a dried red liquid. Blood. I went to the bathroom, the feather tucked safely in my jacket pocket.
The mirror was smashed but I looked into one of the little shards left. Bright blue eyes stared back at me. I cringed and moved down so I could see my face. It was still on my cheeks. The blood. I sighed and wiped it off. The water in the sink turned pink for a few minutes as I washed my hands as well.
I felt clean. I ran out of the house before Miranda could even notice.
Right, left, left, right. And then I heard their voices again. He will come for you tonight, our lord, our god will make you his queen, his goddess.
I smiled, the expression still felt strange on my face. It was my last day here. My very last. I'd never have to come back. My feet felt lighter as I continued down the street.
'Looks like an animal attack.' A few people were gathered around what looked like it was once a cat. But its stomach was torn open. Its blood was smeared all over the sidewalk.
Right, left, right. I made it to school. It was even more of a blur. But it was a happy haze. Because I knew I'd never be back. People, they milled about. But I noticed none of it. Because none of them mattered. They were the same as their houses. Endlessly trying to achieve perfection, when that was what made them ugly. All the same, all the same.
And then I was in the therapists office, again. I couldn't remember when I got there. She seemed intrigued by me today,
'You seem different today. Something on your mind?' she asked. My mind, my mind. Something was always on it. When was something not on it? Odd musings. The women sighed.
'I can't help you if you won't tell me anything.' She said defeated.
'You know you have helped me.' I told her quietly. 'You gave me a reason to come here everyday. Someone that actually expected something out of me. It's nice. I suppose. And I wasn't looking for help. I was looking to be saved.' I stood up and walked to the door. 'There is only one who can do that.' I whispered.
'Who?' the woman asked, clearly shocked. I smiled at her. A sad, knowing smile. Her eyes widened slightly and I left.
I walked straight out of the building and onto the road. I continued on to Miranda's house. The monotonous houses didn't even bother me so much. Because I could see through their thick coats of make-up to the true ugly face. But I could almost believe that someone could remove all that make-up and still love that ugly face beneath.
Step up, another step up. I walked into the house. Then to the room I slept in. It was all so familiar. And all so strange. A mattress lay on the ground. And the clothes were in a trunk. I would need nothing with my lord. So I would pack nothing.
'Is that you?!' the wail. 'Get the hell in here!' I walked over to her door and stood there. She was wearing the same thing, the room was the same, the bottles were the same. She was the same except for her eyes were red and puffy. She had been crying. She looked at me, and a strange grin stretched across her face. 'You're judging me aren't you? You think I'm a terrible mom. A terrible person. He thought so. That's why he left.' She whimpered taking another swig of whatever noxious liquid was in her bottle of choice today..
'No, he didn't leave because you are a terrible person, he left because you did nothing to change that.' I barely whispered. Her eyes shot up to me.
'You're leaving? You are. Don't leave. Don't leave! Who the hell said you could leave?!' she screamed and grabbed a bottle, chucking it at me. It smashed into the wall, shattering. I stood there watching her. 'Fine go! I didn't want you anyway. I never wanted you! He did! GO! Find your father and have him take care of your lazy a**!' I left.
A step and another. A left and a right. Always walking on. Always moving somewhere. But never able to get away. Until now. I walked down the street, then into the forest. They were calling me. I could hear them calling me. Manal and Kakali. He is coming! Come! They whispered everywhere. And I came. I walked through the trees. At peace. Utterly at peace.
And then there he was. Loki. Lord of the crows. The God. I stared at him. Loki, his huge black wings folded in stillness, on his back. His eyes were beautiful dark orbs that could see everything, see into my very soul. He smiled. A lovely smile. He held his hand out for me.
'Come. My Queen.' He said in a strong, warm voice. I smiled back at him. A true smile. I took his hand and he brought me into his chest. I was home. 'I've been waiting for you.' He whispered in my ear.
'Not as long as I have been waiting.' I mumbled back. Waiting my entire life to be finally taken away. From this place, from these people, from myself.
'I'm sorry but I had to wait until you were ready. And now you are. Come, we will leave now. To never return.' It was a promise.
'Yes. Let's go' I answered. His wings spread and his grip tightened around me. Taking me away. Far away from it all.
So many people want to leave something behind when they go. A monument or even a simple gravestone. Something to show that they were here. That they walked this earth. I am happy to say left nothing behind.