I Ain’t Afraid of No Black Bird, Part III: High Flier

Millie wondered if she would be prone to sea sickness. Probably. The stableman’s little cart swayed and the rugged roads dipped in and out of the soily rocks. Mr. Grenwald – paid to drive to town and keep quiet once a week – threw an eyeball full of disapproval at the raven whenever the road became smooth enough to allow for distraction. The raven, unlike Mr. Grenwald’s cruel and mild-witted son, needed only one eye to convey a cup of steaming disdain worth two.

Millie perched on the edge of the shelf-like seat all the way to London, in an attempt to keep a couple of particularly dangerous nails from snagging her blue satin dress. The grainy matte one with thick black cotton lace, not the glossy one with velvet trimming. That one might have raised quite a few more eyebrows than usual. Today she would let her new mate give the “sparkly monies” their daily exercise. Sometimes Millie would line all the fat men and skinny women up in her mind’s eye and have them work their eyebrows into a knot, then into an anchor, then plop into the sea. The raven squawked. It was as though he knew she needed to look away from the air.

She signaled to Mr. Grenwald who stopped the rickety cart far enough from the bustle of eyes to allow Dr. Fethermann to keep hers fixed straight ahead as she walked into town. There was no need to look up or down at anyone while making her way through the filthy and magnificent streets of London. In her white boots she dodged the pothole accidents of carriages written in mud on fine dresses, and the mustardy droppings which stained the over-walked crossing between the two sides of those streets. This place served up, hot and fast, whatever she wanted, but the sense of place was still not in line with her short memory for spaces, which re-imagined a non-existent perfection every time she turned her back on London for home.

But now the raven offered up yet another feeling she had been wishing for, yet another crack between two options which she had fallen out of love with some time ago. He spread his claws and clung fast to the puffy shoulder of her dress, bent gargoyle-like, steadfast, over the bell of her skirts and under the point of her hat. He nibbled the veil over her eyes and glanced shiftily at shifty passersby. He made her feel at home in her own designs for her body and her mind. He made her laugh and he made her eyes as sharp as his own beady one.

So my girl, what’s the plan?, he seemed to suggest with expressive vacancy.

She motioned him onto her arm and kissed his head. “Well my love, it seems that the streets are quite open and the world even wider, and the sight of it all our freshly cracked egg! So I would say that the plan is whatever plan happens to be ours at the time of its hatching.”

The two rushed on, late for nothing and on time for everything.