Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door
Chapter One: Open here I flung the shutter
The wind picked up increasingly and you forcefully close your bedroom window.
Fuck, it was freezing in here.
You shiver and pull the quilt blanket further around your shoulders, flopping back on your bed. You dreamily resume watching the action at the window, fighting off the strong urge to sleep.
You watch mesmerised at the trees fighting for dominance in the wind. Even for the typical unpleasant British weather, tonight was unlike anything you’d ever seen. In some ways it thrilled you.
You doubted you could sleep with the underlying rumble of thunder.
Lying on your stomach, you close the sketch pad. You were supposed to write an essay tonight- due tomorrow- but creativity got the better of you. Instead, you’d drawn a few birds that you spotted earlier in the trees before the storm came.
Sharp tap, tap, taps at the window startle you in your sleepy state. You jump, making that the cluster of pencils on the bed bounce and clatter to the wooden floor.
must be hailing now
“Shit” you mumble with a sigh.
You duck under the bed to pick up the pencil that had rolled underneath, your hand scraping around in the darkness, the single candle was proving useless. Even if storms of this kind were rare and fascinating, they were causing havoc with the electrics. One dismal candle was all you had.
Tap, tap, tap.
You recovered the pencils one by one, hurrying quickly to watch the flurry of hailstones at the window but you couldn’t see any. Out of the corner of your eye, you noticed something dark and small hovering at the window- you couldn’t make it out properly in the little light.
Curiously, you opened the window a splinter to see it better, though it was probably next door’s cat.
A sharp cool air blew into the already chilly room.
You still couldn’t see what it was making the noise but whatever it was sounded very persistent- like it wanted to come in.
It ‘tapped’ now. You were right in front of it.
You open the window a little wider when the wind suddenly caught it, throwing it open dramatically.
You shield your face with you crossed arms at the wind that was let it into the small room, wrestling with your curtains, blowing them streaming.
The wind seemed to die down a little and you looked to the window blinking.
You didn’t expect to see a black bird lying on your window ledge, soaking from the downpour.
You leant over it cautiously, as if your eyes deceived you.
Had it been so desperate to shelter itself from the weather that it sought your cosy bedroom? Not much warmer in here, though.
Its’ chest heaved up and down heavily.
Towering over it, you noticed it was a sort of crow, but larger, a raven? You gasped. What was a raven doing here?
It had stilled considerably, and you really, really hoped it hadn’t died or something. Oh god.
You hurriedly closed the window, stilling the setting once more. The candle’s flame had been expelled in the conflict of the wind.
The raven appeared to be alive after a closer look. You scoop it up in your cold hands concerned even so.
You turn the poor thing over gently, you guess it must be hurt pretty bad since it didn’t bother to squawk or grabble in your careful hand.
The bird had gone limp.
Sucking in your breath, you inspect it as best you could in the little light you had from the moon glow pouring through your window.
The poor bird didn’t look badly beaten but it looked drained. You couldn’t leave it so dishevelled to fend for itself -especially on a night like this. You hesitated. Could you seriously care this bird?
It was too late to take it to a vet now. Maybe tomorrow you could take it after classes.
You didn’t know where to begin.
With a hand towel you find in your drawers, you start by drying it this way and that, warming it gently in the process. “Come on, bud” you muttered flicking your hair out of your eyes.
Did it need food? What do they eat? Your mind quizzed. How would you know?
Sure, you had stuff in the kitchen but for a bird…?
You thought for a second folding your arms and looking down at the poor thing looking for the answer.
You had some seeds and berry mix left in your rucksack from lunch today... it could make do for now. It was still a bird right? So it must like seeds.
A nest? They must have nests surely.
The bird thankfully looked a little more lively now though it still remained silent.
You pulled your various knitted scarves from the drawer, arranging them on your desk so they made a thick circular nest shape.
You scooped up the now-dry bird once again.
It obviously disliked the manhandling by the way it tried to wrestle with you, it opened and closed its mouth rapidly in protest, but no sound came out.
“Calm down- it’s just for a second!” you told it placing it in the centre of the makeshift nest.
It sat inside, gazing up at you almost condescendingly with those black beady eyes.
“Would you rather be out there?” you challenged the bird, gesturing to the raging storm outside.
As if on cue, a tree branch smacked the window harshly almost to the beat of the additional thunder and splutter of rain. The raven said nothing -of course it said nothing you idiot- but you imagined it made the bird version of pressing its mouth in a straight line.
‘That’s what I thought’.
“Well this is as good as it gets... Back in a sec” you hold up your finger to the raven moving to your bedroom door. “Don’t move”.
You pause to shake your head at yourself. Talking to a bird. Madness.
Was this really happening? Sure, you threw seeds to the odd magpie or got close enough to snap pictures of robins but nothing like this.
You softly tread down the stairs, careful not to disturb anyone in the room across the way from you, nipping to the kitchen to fetch a dish for the seed mix. In the darkness you feel around the shape of the fridge and washing machine to the cupboards. You gingerly open one and a rogue saucepan unexpectedly tumbles out before you can catch it.
You cringe at the sound internally praying you hadn’t caused your aunt or uncle to stir and wake. The last thing you need is another lecture.
You stay, crouching in the darkness, clutching the saucepan to your pounding heart. A minute ticked by and you decide it’s safe to move. You curse the saucepan as you put it back, making sure it wouldn’t do anymore cartwheels.
You rattle around in the dark, tucking your hair back from your face until your hands slid over the dish you want.
On the balls of your feet you hurry back to the room, dodging the squeaky floorboards.
You gently close your door behind you “sorry about that” you whispered in the darkness.
You felt around for your rucksack that lay discarded by your bed. You pluck the berry mix from your rucksack. You climb on your bed, dipping at your weight and squeaking at your every movement- the bloody old thing.
You sit cross legged pouring some of the contents in the dish with a few shakes, hoping you hadn’t accidently spilt some, Kari would go spare complaining about attracting mice.
“Here you go” you set the dish down.
The raven made a curious movement of acknowledgement tilting its head seemingly watching you pour the mix in anticipation.
You finished, pushing it towards the raven encouragingly. “This isn’t the Ritz you know. No worms here”.
The bird didn’t react, so you let it be, when it wants to eat it’ll eat.
You tuck the berry mix into your rucksack ready for tomorrow.
You look at the clock on the wall and run a hand over your face. It was tomorrow. How can face getting up now? You were going to sleep-walk through classes.
You dare a finger near the raven to see if it would let you pet it.
Surprisingly, it bends its head to let you stroke it softly. The bird still feels icy to the touch, that wasn’t good.
You gather it in the scarf nest and sit on your bed with the bundle cradled in your lap. You use the palm of your hand to warm it gently again. The wind died away outside, there was no longer thunder.
The bird began to settle down in your hold whilst you worked on it. It nuzzled your palm and you let out a relieved sigh now that it was warmer.
Well this was a weird turn of events.
You shift the bundle on your bedside table making sure to plump the wool around the raven to keep out the cold.
You strip to your underwear swiftly, turning briefly to the raven over your shoulder, it had slumped in the nest, but you could feel its beady eyes burning into your back in the darkness.
“naughty bird” you murmured, hopping into your nightdress before slipping into bed, the old thing creaked under your weight.
You yawn “goodnight bird, whoever you are” and turned over, thankful for sleep at last. You succumb almost immediately.
The bird said nothing.
In your dream, you were in an ice-white room, in front of you, you saw a tall man with a long blue coat and blonde hair, but when you said “excuse me” and he turned, you woke up at that moment during the night, forgetting about it in the morning.