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Watch for Birds

He wears a cloak of birds. Raven feathers flutter with his every step, catching on the wind and changing his direction with every tug. Caws filling his ears as he marches. Always moving. Always one heavy foot in front of the other.

He is a lonely boy, even surrounded by his birds he still feels alone. The raven’s echoing cries chase away anyone else who might be brave enough to get close, to take off his fluttering cloak and pull him out of the velvety darkness. He did not chose the ravens, but he cannot free himself of them.

So he walks, drenched in feathers, talons and beaks tucked towards him, curled around like fragile armor. His tender flesh, his weakly protected bones and organs. But he feels no more than a prick from his birds, no red drips down and marks his path. If he pulled himself out of their fold, he knows there will be no bruises, no scratches or cuts to mark the raven’s passing. He’s not sure if he should be grateful or not.

The birds are both heavy and light at times. So many little bodies, but even more feathers take the weight. Take his weight, make every step lighter than he wants. How silently could he move? He wonders. How easily would it be to glide across the earth my feet had been shaped for? How easy would it be for them to pull me into the sky with them?

It is that last thought that makes him stomp and drag his feet. The thought that makes him keep his eyes on the ground, that wonderful ground he is supposed to feet beneath his soles, that solid earth he fears he will never see again if he —

If he stops. What would happen if he surrenders to the wings and birdsong that have filled his world for so long? He wonders if would he take into the sky like his living armor clamors to do? Would he ever return to solid ground? Would he ever want too? Would he learn to love the sky, crave his own wings?

Or would his birds abandon him? Would his birds leave him if he stopped moving? Would they let him fall? Would they then turn those too-sharp beaks and claws on him? Gorge themselves on his flesh and make a home out of the hollows of his bones?

The boy who wears a cloak of raven’s supposes it doesn’t matter. Stay or leave. Fly or fall — it all ends the same, doesn’t it? Either way his world will end with him covered in velvety black feathers and too loud bird speech. Either way, his feet will leave the ground. By his own power or sitting in the stomachs of his beloved terrible birds, he supposes both options are horrors in their own merits.

But. But he still fears the answer. So he marches, for as long as he can, surrounded by feathers and talons, with snapping, cawing beaks echoing songs in his ears.

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