by Sandra Cormier
I tore along Main Street North on my ten-speed, a jockey urging her mount down the stretch. Tightly packed houses became scattered country homes. I stopped to catch my breath and heard the crow before I saw it.
It perched on a split rail fence and regarded me with one yellow eye. It didn't caw – it spoke.
"Sparkle," it said.
My initial disbelief turned to matter-of-fact acceptance. If magpies could talk, why couldn't crows? "Are you someone's pet?" I asked.
It responded with unintelligible sounds like a voice from a tinny transistor radio. It hopped along the cedar rail, stopping periodically to watch my progress as I pushed my bicycle in cautious pursuit. At the end of the fence the bird spread its ebony wings and fluttered to the ground, continuing its course into a patch of tall grass.
I laid my bike in the ditch and crawled across the ground. Warm, dry grass pressed crisscross imprints into my palms. Deep in the thatch, something glittered. The crow watched as I pushed the fronds aside.
Nestled in the shadows among toy cars and rusty watches were three gems – blue, red and crystalline.
I gathered them up. "They're not real," I told the crow as I sat in the ditch and watched the late afternoon sunlight bounce from their facets.
"They are." The crow's voice was suddenly clear and deep, and he grew tall enough to block the sun. "They now belong to you."