He spread out his wings then edged closer to the crow he’s known for the past two years. They spent every night together in the tree. The other crows sounded a warning.
Below them, two humans pointed a stick upward. He felt safe. They were too high to be hit with a stick.
“Now.” One of the humans yelled. A loud bang made him and all the other crows take flight. All except one. She fell to the ground. Her wings didn’t even try to flap. With a thud she crashed into the ground.
“You killed it.”
“It’s only a BB gun.”
The humans bent over to look at her dead body. A crimson spot covered her black feathers.
He cawed and dove down with his feet outstretched in front of him. He hit the one with the gun in the head.
“Get away.” The boy swiped at him.
“Run.” The other one took off while he circled for a second dive.
They made it inside the house before he could attack them again. He flew down to her body. He pecked at her and clawed at her wings. She didn’t move.
He made every sound he knew, but she never responded. He plopped down. Above him, the other crows settled down to roost for the night. Some called out for him to fly up to the tree, but he stayed by her side. He knew sadness.
A door opened and a human came out carrying a trash bag. The crows above him sounded the alarm. The human walked toward him and he took flight heading toward the human.
The human swung at him and a small shiny circle flew off his hand and landed under the tree. The human didn’t notice, but instead looked at her body then went into a small building.
The door closed and the human carried a stick and a box then dug a hole. With great care her body was placed inside the box and into the ground. The human covered it and stared at the grave for a while with his head down.
Afterwards, he flew down to the grave. He saw the shiny circle and picked it up. He scratched at her grave and put the circle inside it and covered it up. He stayed there all night.
The next day, two humans came out with one pushing a coach. A baby cried.
The other crows dispersed to go harass a neighborhood cat or to find scraps of food thrown out behind the local supermarket. He wanted to stay. He didn’t care about anything else.
“How could you lose your wedding ring?” One human said.
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe you got rid of it because you’re cheating on me.”
“I would never do that. I love you.”
“Then you wouldn’t have lost the ring.” She cried then pushed the baby away. “Don’t come with us.”
“Hayley, wait. I’ll find it.” She kept going.
The human plopped down on a chair.
He watched form the branch. The human was the one who buried his mate.
A tear fell down the man’s cheek.
When the human went inside, he flew down to the grave. With his beak he dug out the gold circle. He flew up with it to the branch and waited.
The human came out holding a small box to his ear.
“You’re right. It’s just a symbol. Of course, I love you.”
He dropped the gold circle and it hit the ground in front of the human.
“I don’t believe it.” The human looked up. He cawed and spread his wings. It was a way to say thank you. He planned to drop something else when the ones with the gun came back.
“It fell from heaven.” He laughed. “Really, or a crow dropped it.”
He took flight.
“You’re right. It couldn’t be the crow. They’re not that smart. It must be an angel.”
“I love you too.” The human left.
He flew to join the other crows, taking his turn diving at a large cat. Later, they all gathered in the tree. He will never forget his mate and will visit her grave until he dies. He hoped the human will bury him next to her when that happened. He looked around and moved closer to the others. It wasn’t a perfect family. In fact, it was a motley crew. It was a murder of crows.
William Falo writes flash fiction. His work has appeared in Newfound, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Fictive Dream, Litro Magazine, and others.