It was a golden afternoon when the mysterious gemstone appeared.
I was waiting for our messenger raven, Barnabas. I always waited for him before sundown. He spent the day travelling all over the continent, delivering and receiving messages for my parents. I had to know that he’d returned safely.
My sister would laugh if she knew, of course. “It’s just a bird,” she’d once retorted. “It can’t love you back.”
We were just children when she said it, but I remember her words well. It had broken my heart back then, to know that he couldn’t love me. And yet, he was still my Barnabas. Every sundown there I would be, waiting for him.
When his inky silhouette appeared against the sky my heart leapt. He was safe. And he was early. He swooped down toward me, but instead of alighting on my shoulder as he usually does, he placed himself at my feet and bowed his head.
There was something shiny in his beak. I reached for it and it clattered to the floor – a gemstone of the very palest blue.
Neither my parents nor my sister knew anything about this strange delivery. There was no note, no return address. And in the ten years we’d had Barnabas, he had never misplaced a delivery.
I didn’t have many pretty things, so I kept it. I threaded string through it and wore it as a pendant. Whenever I greeted Barnabas he would nudge at my chest, almost as if to make sure it was still there.
It was a strange stone. It seemed to light up at random and I could never discover where the light was coming from.
It lit up whenever the neighbour’s dog barked at me. If I was walking close to a steep drop, it would flicker on and off.
On the night the storm sent a tree crashing into the side of our house, it was lighting up like crazy. It burned my fingers to touch it.
I was all alone that night. By the time I heard the crash it was too late. I never had time to run.
Everything happened so fast. I only remember two things before my world went black – bone-shattering pain, and an aura of the very palest blue.
They said it was a miracle that I survived.
I wasn’t so sure.
I found Barnabas the next evening perched on a low rafter. I pulled him close to me. His body was warm in my arms.
“Barnabas,” I whispered. I held the gemstone out to him. “Do you know what this is? Did you bring it for me?”
I studied my beloved raven as he considered the gem. His feathers were ink black and his eyes held an understanding beyond that of any bird.
He never answered, of course.
But from that day on I decided to entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, our love wasn’t so one-sided after all.
(Image courtesy of Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo)
Written for Sue Vincent’s Writephoto Prompt: Messenger