'Murder' by Ashley Meggitt



The crows watched.
Molly sat by the bird bath that stood at the far end of her parent's large horseshoe shaped garden. She used the bird bath as an oversized bird feeder - crow feeder to be more accurate, and Molly was an accurate kind of eight-year-old.
She peered into the bowl. Three presents today.
For some years now she had fed the crows and the crows, in turn, brought her presents. She hadn't set out to feed them, it just sort of happened. She’d been a clumsy toddler, always dropping food , and the ever-watchful ever-hungry crows would glide down and scoop up the casualty before the young Molly could stuff it, dirt ridden, into her mouth. She wasn't scared by the birds. They’d hop about, bickering, and she’d giggle and point and her parents would laugh. ’Criminal waste of food,’ her father would say.
And now she fed the crows because she liked them, and they in return left her presents because, well, she guessed they liked her.
She reached into the bowl and pulled out the first present. It was a rusty bolt, bigger than her hand. She rolled it back and forth in her palm feeling its weight. She knew it was a bolt because only yesterday her father had explained the difference between bolts and screws while he had fixed her wheelchair. He always explained things to her. Best dad ever.
She took one of the plastic bags from her lap and dropped in the bolt, sealed the bag and wrote “147” on it with her permanent marker. This was now her third most favourite crow gift she decided, because to a crow it must have been so heavy. She appreciated the effort.
The second present was half of a small silvery bracelet. It had 'Best' engraved on it. Was there a 'Friend' half lying about somewhere? Probably. It was all the fashion. But present “93” had been another broken bracelet with the word 'Camel' on it. She rather liked the idea of a bracelet that said 'Best Camel'. If you had a pet camel it would be an ideal present - an ankle bracelet. She bagged and tagged it.
The last present was a hair grip shaped like a blue butterfly. It still gripped a few strands of blonde hair in its tiny plastic teeth. It looked just like the one Susie had worn yesterday to hold her "oh so beautiful" blonde hair away from her face - the face that looked like it was sucking on a lemon, the face that had called Molly names. When Molly had retaliated – ‘lemon face’ - Susie had tipped her out of her wheelchair and run off laughing.
The crows had watched.
Molly held up the butterfly.
'I hope you didn't scare her,' she said, and then added , 'too much.'
There was an answering caw from the branches.
This was now her number one most favourite crow present. The bolt was relegated to fourth.





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