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Crow's Test

I used to be a crow but now I am not.
I have shed my wings and feathers, given up beak and claw. I have grown and stretched and expanded. I have ten toes and ten fingers and dark hair on the top of my head and between my legs.
They tell me that I'm a person now.
This puzzles me, because on the inside I feel no different. I am still my crow-self. I think crow thoughts and I collect crow treasures. Only the outside has changed. What about my crow skin had made me a non-person before?
I ask the selkie.
"It's the shape," she explains, gazing sadly out the kitchen window. Her husband has hidden her pelt. She has no escape from his love now, no escape from the shore. "They think souls can only live in human shaped bodies."
"Arrogant creatures," I scoff.
She shrugs and returns to her house work.
I watch the selkie and think she gave up a long time ago. A wave of mingled sadness and anger washes over me, anger at her husband and anger at how helpless I am to do anything about it. I am limited in this shape. If I were in my crow skin, I would peck out her husband's eyes and make him tell me where he'd hidden her freedom so that I could give it back to her.
But I know it doesn't work like that. I can't save her. She has to want to fight. She has to save herself, just as we all must do.
I've had enough of playing at being human. I scrunch myself back down and slip on my crow skin. I preen my feathers, flex my talons, clack my beak. It feels luxurious and real in a way my human body hadn't. It is right and correct all the way down to my hollow bones--this is who I am.
I leave the city behind and fly home to my nest, my family, my flock.
"What was it like?" They want to know.
"Terrible," I tell them. "They hate what is different. They cook their meat and pollute the earth. They live indoors, away from the sun and the air. We are better as crows."
They caw their agreement. We shake out our feathers and settle.
In another ten years, we will try again. We will test to see if it is better to be crow or to be human, and we will decide: crow.
That is the way of things.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Author Comments

I once read a book as a kid in which all crows had the ability to shapeshift. Needless to say, that image stuck with me. What would they use it for? What would they think of the way we live and the way we treat each other? We usually think our ways are the best ways. Crows are smart birds. They probably think their ways are best, too.

- RJ Pedie
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