“After the final leaves relinquish their holds, leaving the trees bare in the freezing winds, when the mists veil the glassy, dark waters of the grand lake, a single black feather falls from the gray skies. A rare omen. The ravens are returning.
“One of us, only one of us, was meant to read the message. The feather gatherer is the only one who can see. What are we to endure? What are we to behold? What do the ravens warn?”
The old woman’s words echoed through her mind just then. “We were them, ” she would say. “They still try to speak to us. So few know how to listen. So very few of us now. You have to bear the burden. You have to take my gift. Let them find you.”
She was dying. This was no secret. The doctors said she was delusional. All the same, she offered her hand. Her mind filled with dark feathers, prophecies of old. She let them come, disbelieving what she saw. Then, she left the old woman, knowing she would never see her again. She felt sick now. Something was wrong here.
The clanging of glasses, the cacophony of words jumbled together into an incoherent buzz from the patrons was more than enough to make her want to step outside for a respite, some quiet.
“Turn up the television!”
“Officials confirm what we have all feared, we are now at war,” the news anchor declared. A unified gasp. Words of disbelief.
The door gave way to her push and a rush of cold, icy wind pierced through the warmth and humidity of the crowd of human bodies. Already she felt herself relax. A light snow was dancing in the dark of the late evening, like flock of fairies pouncing along the streetlamps and fading neon signs of the surrounding businesses. This was much better. Leaning back against the broad window of the pub dividing her from the crowd inside, she turned her head up to the snow, silently thanking winter for the much needed change in atmosphere. Letting the flakes tickle her face, she breathed in the dark winter night. A soft rustling from nearby distracted her from her serenity.
Opening her eyes, she scanned the area around her, believing at first it must be a fellow patron who had come for a cigarette, but she was still alone. Deciding to go back inside, her meditation lost and her relief found, she turned to the door, then stopped abruptly. A single black feather lofted down, landing at her feet. “Grandmother?” she whispered to the darkness. No answer. She stood frozen for a moment before daring to gaze up at the night sky. Up above, there was nothing but snow.
Christine LaChance has contributed to publications over the years, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Every Writer, and The Alien Buddha. She is the author of the L.O.Z.E.R.S. trilogy (the third and final installment coming this year). She lives in Rhode Island with her black cats, Gaia and Luna. Feel free to summon her on Twitter @TheCLaChance