© Sue Vincent
For many years, Franklin Long took morning walks along the river. When he was young, his walks were runs, even in the winter when it snowed. As he got older, the runs slowed to walks. Finally, in his twilight years, he started using a long stick to support himself and he rarely walks alone anymore.
“What’s that over there, Grandpa?” Franklin’s youngest grandson, twelve-year-old Foster pointed away from the river bank, just a few hundred feet ahead of them.
“We must wait, Foster. This is a solemn ceremony.”
“But Grandpa, they’re birds.”
“No, Foster. They are crows.”
They both watched with interest, though Foster’s hands and feet were starting to get cold.
“There must be a hundred of them in that circle. Aren’t groups of crows called a ‘murder’?”
© Sue Vincent
Nancy clung to the base of a gas street lamp just across the street from St. Andrews shivering as she listened to the beautiful hymns and organ music late on Christmas Eve. The tiny child’s clothes were too thin to ward off the December chill and wind, and the cloth wrapped around the perforated soles of her shoes did nothing to keep out the snow.
She couldn’t go back but no one else would take her. Papa had never come home from his sea voyage to America where he said he could earn a fortune for their poor family, and Mama had been beaten and murdered on the way home from cleaning the houses of rich folk, all for a few farthings.
Auntie Pierce took in her baby brother Benjy but said she wanted no “dirty little girl” in her home and sent her away to her friend Lady Harrington to work with the maids. The maids said she was too small and weak and would be nothing but a nuisance, so sent her back to her Auntie’s. Auntie’s man servant refused her entry at the door and she found herself alone.
A boy named Charley Bates discovered her begging on a street corner for just a few pence with which to buy bread and took her to Fagin with promises of work and pay. It was then she embarked on her new life as a thief.
© Jeff Simpson
The Raven Queen was ancient, perhaps as old as the Flood of Noah or even older. She had possessed many names and many guises over the long millennia depending on which people she chose to bless or curse, their languages, traditions, and the like. She had her favorite identities so when apart from the places of men, she would adopt one that pleased her.
She was also very moody. She could create, deceive, protect whole nations, or murder Kings. It was just a matter of which side of the celestial and metaphorical bed she woke up on in any given age.
“What shall we do today, Kutkh?”
“Call me Ishmael,” the archetype perched upon her shoulder replied.
“You jest certainly. Quoting a work of man again? Melville won’t write that line for centuries.”