by Leanne Radojkovich
Celia woke as a crow flew at her. She covered her face just as it dissolved above her head.
That was the third crow to fly out of the bedroom wall. It scared her more than any other nightmare.
What if she ended up like her mother, who’d slept on the sofa with the lights on all night? Then stayed there for days with a teatowel across her eyes? Celia had had to tiptoe around making school lunches from crackers.
There’d been machine guns and snow in her mother’s past. Celia had never seen a machine gun, or snow, and her mother hadn’t seen a bikini until she was war-orphaned and shipped halfway across the planet.
Celia’s ears filled with static: why couldn’t her mother have enjoyed the present before it was too late?
She sat up and felt the air prickle.
A pair of little old people stepped out of the wall. The woman wore a black kerchief, the man a black shawl.
Celia blinked hard. They disappeared.
She went to work and tried not to think about the old couple and the crows.
The next day she woke and the air prickled again.
The old people stood close. “Don’t you recognize us? We’re your grandparents.”
The little woman did resemble Celia’s mother—if she’d worn a kerchief.
“We need a bone, small bone, fingertip, toe.”
“Hurry, hurry,” the old man shooed Celia into action. Did they want one of her toes?
Then a crow landed on the sill beside her mother’s urn.
The little old couple rummaged inside until the woman pulled out a gravelly piece of ash—a tooth?
They waved to Celia and disappeared.
Celia waved back.
Had she gone mad?
She sank down on the bed.
The air softened.
A glimpse of cypresses and snow.