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in dreams: sunday edition

I dreamed last night that I was a child. I was running through a field, my arms outstretched, my small legs clumsily taking me over rocks and mounds of dirt. An airplane passed over me and I looked up, amused that the plane made no sound. It disappeared as if it were going through a cloud, yet there was not a cloud in the sky.

I stopped running and looked up expectantly, waiting for the airplane to reappear. I craned my neck until it was stiff and hot, waiting, waiting.

The airplane did not reappear but a crow flew out of the sky in its place, an enormous crow with the wingspan of a jet. It had something in its beak and as the crow swooped down closer and closer I could see that thing was an animal of sorts; an animal I had never seen in waking life.

The crow landed at my feet and dropped the lifeless animal before me as if he were offering me a gift. I looked at the carcass; it was brown and gold and orange, furry and smooth at the same time. Its eyes were bluer than the cloudless sky and perfectly round like marbles. The eyes stared up at me as if pleading, yet I knew the animal was dead and could not plead even if it had the desire to do so. I reached down to touch the animal, whose head was small and shrunken and was not symmetrical to its body at all, and the crow began to speak to me.

If you touch the animal, you must keep him.

The crow's voice was magical and lilting, as if it were playing an instrument rather than talking.

Seagulls flew above us, circling and diving until the crow gave them just one stare and they took off with a loud beating of their wings.

Go ahead, touch it if you must. But you must take it from me if you do.

I was mesmerized by the sound of its voice. He spoke in cursive writing, his words all flourish and curly letters. His voice was calligraphy done in rainbows.

I knelt down and stared at the animal, my tiny hands tentative and unsure. Did I want this dead animal as my own? Should I just get up and run?

Like any child, my curiousity won the battle with reasoning and I touched the fur. My hand sunk into it, first the fingertips and then down to my knuckles and by the time my I was wrist deep in the animal fur, the crow was smiling - smiling! I had never seen a crow smile before.

My hand reached something warm and soft and yielding. I clasped my fingers around it and pulled it up and out of the fur, a dangling line of sticky fluid trailing my hand.

Open your hand. Open it. Look at what I've given you.

I slowly opened my hand to reveal my prize and laid my eyes upon the smallest heart I had ever seen. It was the shape of a valentine heart, not the heart of anatomy books, and it was the brightest shade of red.

I was still kneeling, perfectly still, hypnotized by the very alive beating of a heart I had taken from a dead animal.

In one quick motion the crow's beak came down on my hand, grabbed the heart, and gulped it down. I could see the tiny heart moving down its throat, the throbbing of of its pumping blood evident in the way the crow's throat beat in and out as the heart slid down.

The carcass is yours to do with what you will.

And then he flew off.

I carried the carcass with me as I once more made my way across the rocks and stones and clumps of almost-dead grass and soon it became nighttime and a cold wind began to blow at my back.

I wrapped the carcass around my shoulder to ward off the chill the wind was leaving on my neck. The head of the animal lay across my chest and bounced as I half walked, half ran through the dark field. Its dead eyes looked at me and try as I would not to look back at those eyes, I kept doing so, until I realized I was lost.

A panic gripped me and I shook myself awake.