The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Longing of the Crow
by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
The crow sits on his perch to
tell the tale, of a beautiful princess
who is set to be wed.
From the mountaintop he ponders
each beau, but he longs to be her
one and only amore.
Decades ago he was blessed with
magic, from a Danish white witch
with a penchant for black feathers.
Now in his refuge on a German hilltop,
he vibrates with power upon the rock,
and the spells come to warmth,
what were once dormant and lost.
He spreads his wings to the chilling wind,
flies over evergreen treetops and vale,
and then lands on her window ledge,
quiet and unafraid.
“Madame,” he speaks.
Wide-eyed, she turns.
“A talking bird,” she chuckles,
as if it’s not even absurd.
“I noticed your suitors, quite
feeble, poor, and rude. Might
I offer you assistance in choosing
someone braver, bold, and true?”
The maiden threw her dark braid
to the side, and ran the back of her
hand over her forehead in a sigh.
“I am lonely but will be alone must
I demise, for living in a loveless marriage
is not something I surmise. But
how can a bird, just a bird, help me
to recover from this madness?”
The raven tilted his head, watching
his princess with longing, and then
he told her his magic, that his feathers
would transform him.
“Pluck out a feather for each suitor
that comes. With the inkwell write
a letter before they arrive, whatever
you write they will be bound to do—
so write them a fortune that is more
hers than his, send them away with
a flick of your new pen.”
The princess, delighted in the bird’s
easy plot, quickly strode over in slippers
of silver and blue, and pulled out a feather
before the first caller of the day came amused.
While the freckled, fair maiden set to her
new duty, her brush strokes admonishing and
encouraging the men to work, plunder, or war,
the crow fled from the window, alighting below.
Each time a suitor arrived for the princess,
he walked out the door after a surprising occurrence,
he smiled as if fortune befell him that day,
though in reality he lost in his request from the missive.
Without warning, the raven landed his sharp claws;
he drew crimson, stabbing eyeballs swiftly,
with a murderous disdain and cause.
Acting in rage and blind devotion,
he had one task in mind,
he’d not stop until he was human.
Driving the sharp end of his beak into organs,
he wrote the end of life with their own dark stain,
he ended any of their romance with blood running
from his victim’s veins.
And he drank, and he drank, from the pulsing holes,
filling up on protein and plasma to make himself whole,
becoming warm in his obsession, macabre in his role.
He daintily cleaned his feathers so to the princess
he would not be a fright, and opening his wings,
he chanted ancient lyrics, he sang of morbid love,
and dead men were made invisible from the castle walls.
When he floated back to her windowsill
he said, “hold my wing in your fingers,”
and so gently touching them was his princess,
indebted to the crow for his assistance,
and then she gasped, for he became a man,
a prince—handsome and raven-haired.
But his vanity betrayed him, his taste for the hunt,
he reached out and wrapped his fingers gently,
her chin in his cusp.
Feeling her supple skin, relishing his prize,
in an instant he strangled her, as love has no ties,
and he relished in drinking her, like fine wine or liqueur,
savoring each drop, his decadent deliverance.
Fiction © Copyright Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Fiction Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi:
It’s the one-year anniversary of the publishing of my debut dark poetry and short story collection, Breathe. Breathe. Much of it tells my life’s pains and haunts and fears poured, sometimes savagely, onto the page. However, there is also legend, folklore, and fantasy as well.
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.
In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.
In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.
Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.
With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.
Be sure to check out the other fantastic events and peeps participating in
Women in Horror Month 10