by Rachel H Grant
Story inspired by Nuart street art by Snik:
The crows circled Duthie Park, crying as one, a call to avian arms. They landed by the bandstand, their black eyes glimmering in the soft sunlight, an eerie intelligence deep within.
She was coming, their friend, their feeder, their hope.
Beauty dripped from her face like butter from a scone. Brown pools of wisdom winked in her face, like portals to a wild paradise where all nature was free.
Everyone recognised her, but no one knew who she was. Bird Girl was her fond nickname. Frequently seen in Aberdeen city centre, feeding pigeons and gulls, her long hair framing a face smiling softly in undying delight.
However, the birds knew her real name. Raven Roberta. She was their avian angel.
The food that fell from her hands was not of this world. Seeds from another dimension healed their hearts and strengthened their souls. Birds in Aberdeen were healthier and lived longer than anywhere else.
Raven Roberta spent her days walking from park to park, while little children pointed and giggled in joy. Roberta was simply part of the Aberdeen architecture, a living legend and an urban mystery.
By night, a raven flew over Aberdeen, unseen, unheard. The occasional black feather that fell to the grey streets below was the only clue to her alter life. Magic feathers, children who picked them up would find that dreams really could come true.
Bird Girl never aged, she never slept. Roberta was just there, like a guardian angel of the city, more real than the Loch Ness monster but less real than the birds she fed.
One day, two grey hairs appeared in her perfect brown locks. Day by day, more grey appeared. Wrinkles crept across perfect white skin like a spider web. Days passed as the brush of wisdom played with Bird Girl like a demented painter. Then one day, she was gone.
Far away, in New York City, bird woman had arrived. An old lady with a black walking stick adorned with feathers, she walked stiffly from park to park and scattered seeds as precious as jewels. The birds of the city became fat and would live long. They knew that magic hid in this woman’s heart, and they could feel their souls grow stronger. Baby birds hatched in abundance. The city was theirs, its heart beating to fierce bird song, an orchestra of healing melody that touched the heart of each New York resident, and secretly sedated their scars.
The city would heal.
Meanwhile, in Aberdeen the seagulls circled the Castlegate, crying like a lost child, the soul of the city singing in their hearts. They had lost their favourite friend, but her memory hung in the air like a ghost. They continued to cry, as though she may hear, as though she may come back.
A long black feather slowly fell to the cobbled stones. A gift, a sign, a signal of hope? Or perhaps just a final farewell.
The feather moved across the stones in the bitter wind, then floated in to the night as if it had never been.
The seagulls came together on the Mercat Cross, shivering in the cool air. Their eyes were deep pools, a well of memories that would never dry. For the best moments never die, the story of our lives unfolding to a song of forgotten youth. Wrinkles come for us all, but our memories are young forever. The legend of the bird girl would never leave Aberdeen, like a bird that cannot fly, stuck in the city, flirting with a freedom it would never know.
The crows circled Duthie Park, calling for a girl they had lost, crying for a future friend they would never know again. Their song rose to the skies. Somewhere, beyond the clouds, a raven cawed, then was silent once more and forever.