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The Crane MAG
The afternoon sunlight reflected off the tall, glass buildings. Long lines of traffic jams were covering the street, and yellow specks of taxis were everywhere. Honking noises made my collar feel uncomfortably tight around my neck. The early winter wind went straight through my bones. I blended right in with the crowd of people walking around me.
I turned a corner and walked up the steps. The tintinnabulation that the tiny bell made as I opened the door sounded as if it needed to be polished. The door seemed centuries old. The noise I made coming in didn’t seem to bother her, as her back was still turned to me. She was sitting on a big red pillow. The room was small, and peculiar objects were all over. I spotted an old oil lamp on top of a pile of foreign books. The place reminded me of an antique store. I clashed with every part of this room. I awkwardly tottered toward the woman; her hair was a tornado of dark curls. There was a small, flat round object in front of her, covered with a traditional Hungarian cloth.
On the other side of this table, another red pillow was seated on the ground. I guessed that that was where I was supposed to sit. My dress-pants folded over as I bent down in my gray-black suit. Her eyes opened to reveal button brown eyes that seemed to sink ever so far.
A deep steady voice arose. “Ah, you must be Andrew.” The rolling ‘r’ she put in my name revealed an accent.
“Yes, I am. And how do you know that?” I snapped back. My tone made me seem stubborn, but my voice was also shaky and had an unsteady rhythm. The clairvoyant didn’t look the slightest bit offended.
“It’s on the pin that’s attached to your suit. Next to ‘Boss’.”
“Oh ...” My face turned faintly red.
She faced down to look at a strange object that I hadn’t yet noticed. It was one of those stereotypical glass balls that were said to show the future. But even though I rolled my eyes, it was somehow captivating, almost magical. Shiny, gray, cloud-like mist was spinning around in a manipulative manner. The movement of the mist was like laundry in a washing machine, but slower.
She looked at the glass sphere, and although I saw nothing changing in the ball, her eyebrows raised apprehensively, causing deep wrinkles to form between her eyebrows.
“I’m sorry to tell you, your future doesn’t look too bright," she sympathetically stated slowly without looking up. “You won’t live much longer.”
She said it so kindly, especially in comparison to the doctor in the hospital this morning. He had said it with such little change of tone that at first, I thought he was kidding. It was all too casual, too expressionless, too emotionless. But the fact that the clairvoyant predicted this, caused me to feel odd trust.
“Do you see how I will die?” I questioned unsurely.
“Not in this crystal ball, but I can do something else.” She stood up and went through beaded strings that functioned as a door. As I waited, I nervously fiddled with my leather watch strap.
When the clairvoyant came back, she held a porcelain cup. She handed it over to me, and I peered down at a dark liquid.
“Is this coffee?” I asked.
“Not the normal coffee you know. This one will reveal a word, or symbol, at the bottom. And it will be the last thing you see!” She sounded like an evil witch now, one from fairy tales emphasizing some words of her speech. I was bringing the cup closer and closer to my mouth. Was I really about to drink something I got from a psychopath? But I knew that I had to trust her if I wanted to know more about my death.
The coffee was the blackness of a demon’s soul. Once I eagerly gulped down the last sip, my eyes indeed found a symbol, or some sort of letters at the bottom of the cup. It looked like a stain. The clairvoyant grabbed it out of my hand and started flipping pages in a book that looked like an atypical dictionary. “Crane,” she said.
“The symbol means crane.”
“And what does that mean?”
“A crane will be the last thing you see on this earth!”
* * *
It was not until Monday, on my way to work with a briefcase in hand, that I realized how hard it is to avoid cranes in New York City. I had decided not to look up at the sky. However, I was just looking in front of me when I saw it. The petrifying shadow of the end bit of a crane. I could hear the builders that were working around it. I couldn’t breathe. My heart stopped, and then beat quicker than it ever had as I turned and ran. I ran back and turned the corner to a block that I was sure had no cranes. I sighed, though my heart kept pumping erratically. I slowly continued walking on my detour toward work, hearing sirens everywhere.
The following four or five weeks, I had been able to successfully avoid any cranes. These few weeks, however, I had wondered why I hadn’t died when I saw that shadow. I kept doubting whether I should even believe the clairvoyant. I had managed to not look out the window when at work, because I was sure I would see many from that tall glass building. I had also made sure to not walk through any crane shadows. And yet I was petrified.
I was going to move to the countryside. I thought it was a genius plan. I was already 66, and I was allowed to get my pension. After many years of work, I would go to the countryside to live peacefully for as long as my heart would carry me. But the best part was that no crane nor crane shadow could follow me to that place.
A week before moving, I decided to go on a stroll in Central Park. It was a beautiful day at the end of winter. Golden light from the low standing sun was shining on the green plants and trees. I sat peacefully on a bench. I looked at the field in front of me. The wailing sirens were echoing faintly. A beautiful bird caught my eye.
It was very tall will long legs. There was a big red circle on its forehead. The afternoon sunlight made the bird look like it was made of gold. I could see every little feather, as if it was a painting. And then my heart ached, I felt a horrible pain, and my vision grew blurry. I could still see the majestic bird fly up and spread its long wings hovering to the west. My vision was now completely blurry, and I started panicking. In pain, I could hear a muffled voice of someone nearby,
“Wow, do you see that Sandhill Crane? Those birds are extremely rare here.”
My vision turned black. I felt death slowly embrace his dark arms around me.
And then it was silent.