Omen

Three crows glide over the telephone lines and land in the tree next to the garage. They peck each other, beating their wings and squawking until black feathers shower onto the roof. I hear my mother's truck coming down the road. I don't look. I don't need to. I know the sound of that truck's engine better than I know my own name. As she pulls into the driveway, the crows screech and scatter. I stand staring at my feet. The truck door slams. I listen to her tiptoe across the crunchy brown grass. She taps me on the shoulder and tugs my hair. I ignore her and begin gathering the newspapers that have blown all over the yard. I try to read the headlines on a yellowed scrap, but the letters won't form words.

She's right behind me. I can smell her lipstick and feel her cool breath on the back of my neck. Maybe I can trick her. Catch her off-guard. If I'm lucky, I'll be in the house with the deadbolt locked before she even gets to the porch steps.

I whirl around and heave the newspapers at her. The pages flutter momentarily in the dying breeze, then vanish. I look at the empty driveway and wonder if it's all a dream until I notice my fingers, black from the newsprint and the crows' feathers on the roof of the garage.