While looking down the street of her bleak winter neighborhood, Gil throws birdseed onto the ground. It’s a task that's become as much a habit as brushing her teeth before breakfast. The stillness of the morning, the cold pin-pricks on her arms and legs, last nights dreams drifting away, and the grey trees against white snow make the world seem more real.
It’s usually her time to think about things before she has to go to school. Her parents are already at work by now and she has the thinking space to her self. But, today is Saturday and she doesn’t have to be at school anyway and her parents decided to go to work and get ahead of the next week. So, today Gil thinks about the black bird with the yellow feather that has come by every morning for the past three weeks.
Maybe it’s a crow, she thinks. It looks like a crow but she’s never seen a crow with a single yellow feather in its tail. He stands around with the other winter birds that need the seed, but he doesn’t eat anything, just stands, watches, waits for something. She wished it would talk to her. She never has anyone to talk to any more.
Gil goes back inside when she has no more seed to offer and walks around the house in her PJs wondering what to do today. She can’t think of a thing and sits down to turn on the TV but stares blankly at the off screen. She picks up the book she’s been reading about alligators and Louisiana and crazy talking gardens but the book feels too heavy and the words on the page are too close together today.
Instead, Gil sits by the front window to get a good look at the birds eating the seeds. She has this urgent feeling in her stomach and hands like she’s supposed to do something today but she doesn’t know what. And then she sees the black bird land next to the brown finches and it stands and waits.
“What are you waiting for,” she asks aloud and the black bird ruffles its next feathers and ka-kaws.
“Four and 20 black birds baked in a pie,” Gil sings.
“Kaw kaw awk kack... Cough… Ahem… I’m a raven.”
Gil knew she wasn’t dreaming. She had heard the raven speak out loud even through the glass window, but now she wondered if she was just crazy.
“Well, I’m not dreaming,” Gil says as the raven hops in the air and lands itself on the windowsill opposite where she sits. “And I heard you speak. So does this make me crazy? I’ve heard of these things happening. Old ladies in the park talking to squirrels. Piggies coming to visit people to tell them their family is in trouble.”
“First, you’re not and old lady and I’m not a squirrel. I’m sure their conversations are mostly important but I think squirrels and old ladies both just need the company. Second, being awake and hearing me talk doesn’t make you crazy. It’s about time you spoke to me I’ve been hanging out here for, like, three weeks waiting for you to say something to me. Third… piggies?”
“Do you know me? I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”
“Yes, of course, I know you, Gil. I’m not a stranger. I’m Kaw. Now come on we’ve got to get going. I was supposed to have you back there already.”
“Kaw? Like Kaw Kaw, I’m a crow?”
“I'm a raven and my parents weren’t very original. My sister’s name is Crow.”
“So, my parent’s panicked, but never mind. You know me, I know you, and now you have to come with me.”
“But why me and where do we need to go?”
“You, because you’re reflection got herself into a bit of trouble and she needs your help. And so, we’re going to The Reflection.”