A Falling from the Sky
by Aileen Hunt
Philipstown, King’s County, Ireland, 1846
That night, the wind bore a strange cry. Not the cry of a banshee. They knew that sound, carried it around like a familiar chill. Not the cry of an owl or a cat, or even that of a fox, demented in his longing. A foreign sound, harsh, insistent. It put the heart across them and kept them awake in their beds, fingering their beads and mumbling their prayers.
In the morning, they stumbled into the daylight, dreading the doom that surely awaited them. Dead crows were everywhere. In the fields and in the gutters; thick on the road; floating in the black water of the horse trough. Worse, there were dead crows on the thatch of Sweeney’s cabin, and Campbell’s. Margaret Campbell kneeling on the street, sobbing, her neighbours looking on in shamed relief.
It was clear the crows had famished, their skeletons visible, their bodies light as the feathers that covered them. John Callan nudged one with his foot and it skittered across the gravel like the scrunched-up page of a torn newspaper. Martin Kelly lifted one by the wing and bowed his head at the green and purple pity of it. The priest blessed himself from his doorway and the old schoolmaster shivered.
Susan Byrne looked at the spread of shrivelled flesh in front of her and wondered was there any eating on it.
Aileen Hunt is an Irish writer with a particular interest in flash forms and creative nonfiction. Her work has been published in various journals online and in print, including Hipppocampus, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Entropy, and Compose. You can find her at aileen–hunt.com.