Dark feathered sentinels

Parking my car out in the country, I have the car park all to myself, this cool day has not attracted anyone else on this morning. A thin mist floats across the fields filtering the lazy morning sun, I climb out of the car and wipe down a dew drenched bench with my sleeve, take a seat and watch the colours change with the moving mist.
The cawing of crows greets my arrival, one inquisitive crow comes near and lands on a fence post near me, he looks at me. tilting his head and lining me up with his beady eye.
Do I look so sick and wounded?
Looking down I swing my feet, clearing the stones beneath the bench, clear the clutter around my heels and toes. grasping the bench alongside my legs I stretch my shoulders, deeply sigh and look back as the crow looks to me. He flaps and stretches his wing, rocks back and forth, and moves a little nearer, shuffling sideways along the wooden fence.
I look over my clothing to see if there is something that glints on me to hold his attention, a button or tag, but no sparkle is to be found on me at all.
I watch him as he watches me, then cawing loudly directly at me before taking flight towards me, landing on the bench’s arm, maybe he is usually fed, maybe that is it, an old lady must have visited, probably for many years, but today she is not here, sadly passed away, or I hope just busy on this day.
“Sorry crow, I have no food with me” I say to him, patting my pockets as if crows knew of pockets. He looks like he doubts me and turns his head from side to side, thinking, deciding what his next move should be. He lets out another caw, loud and jolting at such close quarters.
Thoughts of movies, of pecked out eyes enters my head, so I turn my head and look sideways across at him, he agitatedly flaps his wings and flies back to the fence.
The wooden bench is numbing me, so I stand and lean on the fence and admire the beautiful pink playing on the mist as it gently slips down the hill. The crow holds his ground shuffling and cackling, before walking along the fence away from me, perhaps he is in playful mood, I walk along nearer to him again, stopping when he turns, like musical statues back when small, he walks a little way further, I follow, nearer the woods.
In crackle flap he flies up into the nearest tree at the edge of the wood, I turn away believing it the end of our little game, Caw! I hear and turn to see him hop down to nearer branch, so into the woods I follow.
Crunching over fallen leaves and twigs, I follow as he leads in short flights from branch to branch, The sun is getting a little higher now and filters through the top of the trees, lighting a small clearing up ahead, in the clearing is a small well and an old bench. Digging in my pocket I retrieve a coin, and rotate it in my fingers, the crow has taken a low perch near the edge of the glade, I see him watch the coin spinning. I toss it into the well then take a seat and think of a wish.
Across the clearing, through the trees, from where I came, I hear the sound of car engines, they sound aggressive echoing through the wood, someone else has woken up. I hear slamming doors and raised voices. Arguments have always made my blood run cold, so I have no interest in returning into the middle of this argument. I stand up to get a little nearer leaning around a tree trunk, the crow caws and agitatedly flaps. My heart jumps as I hear a loud bang, followed by three more, I freeze and stay stuck against the tree trunk, doors slam and I hear a car leave.
I can feel my heart pounding against my ribs, my breath shaking and hands trembling. Another door slammed and another car leaves in a shower of stones thrown by speeding tyres.
I wait, wait for absolute silence. My heart is starting to settle as I hear the crow caw gently, cackle and fly out back towards my car. Again I follow, but have much trepidation, not wanting to see until I am sure there is nothing there.
Emerging out of the wood, only my car sits there, there are grooves in the gravel, and horribly the glint of blood.
I look around for the crow but he is nowhere to be seen, so I climb into my car, take a deep breath, start the engine and go home.


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