Friendship Crow Castle

A speed-write written in twenty minutes. Nouns generated via this site: [link]

“Hello, friend,” the witch said as she reached out through her barred windows, offering a crust of bread between her fingers.

The black bird fluttered to the sill, his long beak plucking the bread from her hand, eating it quickly as he peered at her through her prison bars.

She smiled at him as he hopped onto her palm. His nails tugged at her skin. His feathers ruffled in the slight breeze that never quite made it into her prison cell in the castle’s tower.

If only she had wings like her friend, and she could fly, fly, fly away from here.

With a whisper of feathers, he alighted from her, spiraling up towards the sky before disappearing through a crown of trees. She let her hand hang with a limp wrist against the ledge of the window. The stone jutted into her skin and her bone, and soon a fuzzy numbness settled through her but still she waited in case the crow came back. She waited until the sun died and the cold seeped through her bones and her nails blued.

She pulled her hand back into the cell, cradling it against her chest as she crouched on the far end of the wall where it felt a little warmer but maybe it was her imagination. She shivered and let her body drag her down into something like sleep.

It hurt less when she slept.

It hurt more when she woke, as she did too early, when it was still night and the sky was patched with stars.

Desperation clawed through her throat that she should wake too early, when there were too many hours before the rising sun and nothing to occupy her thoughts.

She squeezed her eyes shut, but a bird called and she saw the raven from earlier sitting on the sill once more, so black that he might as well have been crafted from shadow and night.

Somehow, he made it through the window—the shadow melting through the bars or the bars bending around the void where a bird should have been—but there he was, flitting towards her, sharp claws digging into her shoulder as he alighted.

“I’ve no bread for you,” she murmured. “I’m only fed twice a day and they won’t be here until after the sun is risen.”

The bird said nothing, only dropping a sprig of berries he’d been carrying in his beak into her lap. She ate them, berries so ripe they flooded her mouth with sweetness she had forgotten. Their juice stained her fingers purple and blue and she stuck them in her mouth and sucked the juice from her skin.

The bird fluffed his feathers and ran his beak through her hair. He was gentle, and she closed her eyes as he undid the knots that had tangled during her long stay in this forsaken cell and her hair fell in tightly coiled curls down her back when he was done, hair just as black as his feathers.

“Thank you, friend,” she whispered as he fluttered away, another shadow slipping through the bars, leaving nothing behind but a single pinion feather.

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