A Frostbitten Raven

Dreary is the word to describe the evening I was silently waiting for in my chair. Although I wished to stay there forever, finding comfort in the red velvet I sat upon, Mr. Halow would be waiting for me, in an armchair of his own. He wished to talk of a business deal we had coming up. That was all I knew of my visit to his home, to which I was expected.

The floor of the parlor is made of cedar planks, worn down from the parties my wife would insist I host nearly every year. I’ve always been prone to resist the suggestion of guests, but Marie won the battle every time. It’s one of the many reasons I admired her. I wish I hadn’t been so against them, the parties I mean, for now all I wish for is the sound of voices filling the house and Marie’s laugh as she pours another glass of wine.

The hearth housed crackling flames that I knew would be somewhat more interesting than Mr. Halow’s obtuse tales, yet I must give credit. Mr. Halow was a man with an interesting life, yet a very un-interesting man himself. He nearly puts me to sleep in the midst of his stories. Those god awful stories seem to be the only thing that can put me to sleep these days it seems. 

The frost on the windowsill across the foyer I watch everyday creates a sense of eerie calm during the cold months. But it unnerves me, it does every year. It starts as only a small pattern in the corner of the glass, like the powdered sugar Marie would sprinkle on a breakfast cake in the early hours of the morning. But then the frost would spread, branching off onto the rest of the window, until it covered it completely. It reminds me of the sickness that took Marie from me. Spreading and spreading until the thing on which it spread upon has disappeared completely.

I startle as I see a dark shadow whisk past the window, only to disappear back into the shadows. It’s funny how a storm can make an early evening look as though it’s the dead of night. I stand from my chair to creep to the window. Yet before I have the chance to peer into the darkness, there is a knock on my front door.

Mr. Halow’s messenger is here.

“Good evening sir.” The short man tells me. “I come with a message from Mr. Halow. He invites you to his home to have tea and discuss some important matters.” I nod, my facial expression as still and unmoving as a rabbit waiting in the garden for the farmer to turn a blind eye. I dislike it when people send messengers, instead of making the journey themselves. The snow never hurt anyone, especially if you wore a coat as expensive as Mr. Halow’s.

“Yes, thank you Mr.—” I hesitate.

“Bernt. You may call me Mr. Bernt, sir.” 

“All right then. I’ll arrive at Mr. Halow’s abode at—” I glance at the large grandfather clock, placed near my coat rack. “A quarter to six.” Mr. Bernt nods before returning back down the road. I go to close my door, when I see it again. 

The dark shadow flew right past the tip of my nose, startling me. Yet this time, I saw it in its true colors.

A large bird, with glistening wings as deep a color as the sea. She lands on the ground in front of my door, and looks at me with deep, questioning eyes. I knew she was smarter than me, and she knew it too. She bent her head to the left, seemingly asking a question.

“Well, hello there.” I tell her. She shuffles back and forth on her feet, leaving tiny footprints in the powdery snow. “Would you like something to eat?” I ask. I wait for her to squawk in response, but she does nothing of the sort.

I prance to my kitchen, halfway across the house, and leave the front door ajar. I grab a chunk of cheese and break off a piece for the raven. I race back, but by the time I have returned, she is gone. My door is left open, snow blowing inside, coating the carpet of my home. Even the raven’s little footprints have blown away, leaving me to wonder if she was ever really there at all.

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