The Boy and the Crow

He sat, stuck, staring at the tree where the free crow rested, and wished to be the crow. He spread his arms out from his chair, closed his eyes, and imagined feeling the wind whistle past his ears and over his bald head as he glided with the crow. Every day, the crow came to show the boy how to fly. Every day, the boy imagined how he could fly away, and be free. Tears slid silently from his eyes and seeped into the stuffed bird in his lap. Fear and frustration slid down his face sometimes. He always wiped them away just before the nurse came to get him. It made him feel foolish to cry when he was still alive and he knew he was going to go watch shows with other children afterward. And after that, he’d get to see his tired parents. So he smiled. And breathed. And waited. He pulled out his sketchbook when his tears calmed and wouldn’t destroy the precious paper. And he sketched though his arms ached. He sketched the crow’s reality, like he had many times before. He pressed, scraped, created sharp lines and gentle shadows. He started with the subdued, blanketed sky and the fluffy sun still shining faintly. He used sharper lines to draw the tree and each individual leaf. Then he drew the grass that he couldn’t touch, and the crow, flying down to rest on his wheelchair to watch him draw.

While perched in the tree, the crow watched the boy draw intricate shapes, showing the creativity and calm that the crow could never experience. The crow wanted to watch only the boy, but had to watch for cats or foolish children or angry adults or other things. His head twitched. He could escape. Was he in danger? Sometimes he’d glance at his collection of human intricacies. Shiny circular metal pieces, paper with humans’ faces on them, a miniature cup he saw a girl playing with, a sphere that would bounce and escape when the crow dropped it, and sticks with tips that the boy left behind. (Wait, was that… no. No cat.) The sticks were the crow’s favorite. That’s why he was here every time the boy came outside. The boy made things with them on large white leaves. Was there any danger in a boy who could only do that? He flew to the ground in front of the boy. The boy’s eyes widened and his mouth formed a perfect gap for the escaping sphere. The crow gazed up at him, then down at the ground and scraped, trying to mimic the boy’s movements. The boy watched. When the crow had exhausted his scrapes, he looked up at the boy again. The boy smiled. Slowly, steadily, the boy pulled his creation from the book, and held it out for the crow. The crow was elated. Astounded. He flew immediately grabbing the picture and flying it back to his hoard. The crow was in the picture, and that was the most human thing he experienced.

The crow watched as the boy steadily learned to walk with the help of a large stick. He smiled more. His skin looked less like the white leaves. Soon the boy didn’t come outside anymore, and the crow mourned. He missed the boy. But he had the picture of the boy with him. He imagined the boy still created. Maybe he created him, still.