Reynold stayed the night at his parents’ house because his father has gotten too old, too bent and crooked to cut firewood himself. He does not live with them, not since – and he would say this proudly – he was seventeen. He moved out with a trash bag full of clothes into his very first apartment, Mrs. Stone’s basement six houses down. Now he’s got his own house two towns over that he built himself, too big now without Jenny there anymore.
It’s barely six am when the crows outside his window start their calls. It starts in the background of the dream he’s having – something about a bump under Jenny’s dresses and a look in her eyes he remembers her having – and then his eyes are open and he’s wishing they weren’t. He shuts them again, squeezing tight and pulling back the dream images that have already begun to dull and look away and shut their eyes right back at him. Those damn crows keep calling.
The next sounds he hears, of his father getting ready in the next room, are familiar in sequence but not in pace. The shuffling of feet and the buzz of the electric razor Reynold got him for his birthday years before seem to move forward without decision. Reynold wonders if his father’s replaced the blade since he got it.
The crows call louder, trying to get his attention again, to remind him why he’s got his eyes open instead of closed, enjoying the way Jenny’s belly looked once upon a time all rounded like that, all promising. He moves the curtain to see where they’ve gathered, and the elm tree that was bare just last night is solid black with birds, standing there like replacement soldiers for the leaves.
The sight is scary, but Reynold is not scared. He waits for his father’s descent on the stairs, the click of the deadbolt they added last year when the Bergmans’ came home to a kid with a knife in their bedroom, and the start of his pickup to clear them out. He stares at the birds, waiting for the satisfactory dispersal.
“Hey!” His father stands at the base of the tree, waving his arms above his head, looking smaller than all those birds together above him. Some of them stare down at him as though trying to interpret his dance, but most of them ignore him, their calls drowning out his curses. After a moment, Reynold hears the pickup truck start, watches it drive down the street away from him.