For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.
Rags of mist scattered, and a crow bird landed in a heap of ragged feathers at the edge of the clearing. Jon picked up a stone and aimed at the bird. Hrolf growled and Halli looked bemused.
“What’s the maggot pie done to you? It’s half-blind and ancient.”
“They’re bad luck when they’re on their own,” he replied sheepishly but he lowered his hand all the same.
Wise. Bird knows.
“Does it know how to get out of here? Oh, I forgot. Birds can fly, can’t they?”
The magpie tilted its head on one side and opened its beak. It clacked its tongue in a series of hoarse calls, the familiar unmusical utterings of all magpies, but the images that fluttered behind Jon’s eyes made him blink at their brightness. How long was it since he had seen colours, real colours dense enough to draw a finger through and paint with? Blues shading from blue-black through turquoise to the palest of china blues streaked across his vision, pink-purple-violet cupped in tender green, haloed in gold and nasturtium orange. The bird tilted its head the other way. A milky eye peered at him.
Jónsi be listening.
Hrolf was watching him, his ears slightly raised. The bird’s tongue clacked again and he saw waves, a rolling green swell. His vision skimmed the wavetips, and a shoreline grew on the horizon, a forest fringe, hills, but before them rose a line of black cliffs, where the vision broke like impotent waves. The bird sight fluttered again and again, each time repulsed. Jon’s heart sank.
“It’s there. Just over the horizon. But I can’t reach it. It won’t let me in.”
In a rage, he threw the stone across the clearing and into the barely seen trees that huddled about its edge. In the silence that followed the rustle of its flight through the dripping leaves, they all heard the plop of a stone hitting distant water, the slap of a wave against rock.
Halli got to her feet and looked down at Jon with the expression she wore when he had done something particularly stupid.
“If we’re looking for the ocean, we could try that way.”
The magpie gathered its ragged feathers together, leapt into flight and beat its way into the mist. Hrolf barked. Jon knew he was laughing.