The crow sat high above in the trees staring down upon the people walking below. There were happy families on Sunday afternoon strolls, older couples enjoying their little walk through the freshly fallen snow, and groups of teenagers running along the trail and calling after each other. He hid high so he would not be seen, but occasionally an eye would glance up at him. He would look down, study the person, and the usual response was “Not yet for you today.” That to him seemed like it would be good news, but humans did not understand the language of the crow. They shook their heads and walked away every time.

The crow had been sitting in this tree for at least an hour now, but he wasn’t particularly counting the minutes. He was quite content waiting for his moment. As he scanned the ground below, he felt a small brush against his left wing. He turned his head and there was a squirrel.

“Anyone yet today, Mr. Crow?” the squirrel asked.

“Not yet. Still waiting. I still have some time before the sun sets,” the crow said in response.

“It’s not an animal today, is it? Surely it’s a human. It seems to have been one of us the last few times,” the squirrel said, looking up into the crow’s eyes.

“Everyone has their time, Mr. Squirrel.”

The squirrel tried to hide his fear from the crow. He didn’t want him to feel bad. He couldn’t even imagine how hard it must be to bring the sign of death, but the crow saw him. The crow turned his head and looked outward. The tall buildings rose in the background beyond the fields of white. A handful of snow fell from a tree.

“Like I said, everyone has their time. Today is not your day, if that’s what you’re asking. You will know when it is and I will be there to greet you,” said the crow, still looking outward.

The squirrel’s eyes lit up. This time there was no hiding it. “Well, thanks! I’ll see you around, Mr. Crow,” the squirrel said as he scurried down the tree trunk and back to his little home.

“No need to thank me,” the crow said under his breath. “I don’t make the decisions, I just bring the answers.”

As the crow scanned the ground once again, he spotted it. A frail raccoon making his way through the bushes, scrunched up against the stone wall. The crow took one leap off his branch and spread his wings. His jet-black feathers glistened in the sun. He stood out against the white ground and everyone stared. Some children hid their eyes and even some adults stepped back. He wasn’t bothered by this, though. His job was about to end.

He flew down towards the raccoon, landing right next to him. Everyone who was once staring went back to what they were doing, but still made the attempt to go far around him.

When the crow landed, the raccoon stopped pulling himself along. He collapsed on the ground and glanced up at the crow. Their eyes met.

“So we meet for the last time, Mr. Crow?” the raccoon said, lying in the bushes.

“So we do, my friend,” the crow responded.

“I’m not scared,” the raccoon said. “I’ve lived my life to the fullest. My time in this beautiful place is done. What a day to remember it by, too.”

The crow turned around, stepping out of the raccoon’s view. The raccoon looked out upon the meadows. The snow reflected the two o’clock Sunday sun, giving it a bluish tint.

“It is quite the beautiful day, Mr. Raccoon,” the crow said, also looking out. “But I’m afraid there is no more time left. I must move on, and so do you.”

“Yes, I know,” the raccoon said, his eyes turning back to the crow. There was a sad quality to his voice, but he himself wasn’t sad. He would just miss this place he called home for the past three years. “I’ve gotten enough enjoyment out of this life. Thank you for coming down here to let me know.”

The crow looked down at the raccoon. “It’s not a problem, Mr. Raccoon. You’ll be missed by many.”

And with that the crow spread his wings and left the ground, flying to his next tree for the day. The raccoon looked out one more time at the snow, and then closed his eyes.

 

Nikki Conero is a senior majoring in Computer Arts at SVA.