As per his instructions:
Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; and either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here – pingbacks don’t seem to be working, and I haven’t yet figured out why.
A Little Help
Sandy couldn’t help it, sadness caused her to be able to do nothing but cry.
She took little Chico, her rat terrier/Chihuahua for a walk. In his excitement, he had gotten tangled up in his retractable leash, and when she unhooked it, he took off after some imagined sight or sound.
She tried to follow, calling to him even as he disappeared into the woods. She kept looking, continued calling, but she couldn’t even hear him anymore.
So, she stood there on the side of the path and cried.
“Why you cry, Human?” The voice startled her, as she thought herself alone. When she didn’t see anyone, she returned to her grief. “Human…?” The voice sounded a bit gravelly, high in pitch and a bit hurried.
“Who… who’s there?” she stammered.
“Up, Human, look up.”
She turned her head up and saw a bird in the branches. “Did you speak?”
“Caw, yes, Human. Why sad?” The bird had turned toward her, cocking its head and looking around.
“My Chico. My dog, he ran away, following something I didn’t see. I can’t find him,” she spilled it out in almost a single sentence, sobs punctuating for her.
“Dog? Rawk! Little creature with you?”
“We were walking, but he got tangled. When I tried to get the leash straight, he took off. Now, he’s gone.” She began crying again.
The bird squawked again, repeating, “Creature with you! Creature with you!”
“Yes, I told you. Can’t you please help me?”
“How help, Human?”
“You can fly. You could search much quicker than I, then tell me where he is.”
The crow seemed to think it over. “Help for one bread. One crunchy bread, and help you find creature.”
Sandy went into her pocket, thankful she had brought some stale pieces of bread to feed the birds anyway. She pulled it out and held it aloft. The bird swooped and she gave a half-turn. She felt a bump at her ankle followed by a yip.
Her hand lowered as she looked down to see Chico, hiding behind her feet as he so often did. He just had a bad habit of staying just out of sight when she turned to try to see him. Usually, his shadow would give him away, but the overcast skies cast no shadows.
“Caw! Bread, Human. Bread.”
“You will get none, Crow.” She felt a mix of embarrassment and anger at being deceived. “You hid the fact my dog stood here the whole time.”
“Told you, Human; creature with you. Bread.”
She had stooped to gather up her pet, throwing one last glance at the conniving bird. “Fine, take your spoils, then.” She tossed the piece of hard bread opposite the way she needed to go.
As it hit the ground, it exploded into hundreds of little bits. The crow swooped to the smaller ones just as a flock of swallows bore down and began pecking on the rest.
Even as she rounded the bend to go home, she could hear the old crow yelling at the others, “Mine! Bread mine! Caw!”
She couldn’t resist a smile knowing the pesky bird would get precious little of the reward he tried to finagle.