The Ravens

Posted October 2012: The Ravens

The ravens were staring at me again today.

Yes, I am well aware of how insane that sounds. But it’s true. And since this is my private sketchbook, I think it’s okay to journal about all the weird stuff that happens to me. I should probably tell someone to burn this if I get hit by a bus or something. The most likely candidate for the job would be Jon, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea. Even though he’s my best friend on the entire planet, he can’t really be trusted not to read this. He’ll think I’ve written something juicy about him, and he won’t be able to resist taking a peek. So Jon, if I’ve died unexpectedly, and against my better judgment I trusted you to be the one to burn my sketchbook, please respect my dying wishes and read no further. I mean it. If you keep reading, I’m coming back to haunt you.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the ravens…When I walk down to Newcastle Beach to work at the inn, I always go down Ocean Avenue. There’s this spooky, abandoned mansion across the street from the inn, and there’s usually five or six ravens sitting on the stone wall right by the mansion’s gate. They remind me of that Edgar Allen Poe poem. I can totally see them saying, “Nevermore.” I wonder if I could teach them to say that. Some people might think they’re creepy, but I don’t. I think they’re amazing. I’ve started trying to see how close I can get to them. It’s crazy—they let me walk right up to the fence, and they don’t fly away. Maybe they’re just used to people. There are always hotel guests parking nearby—they probably feed the ravens.

The other thing that’s strange about these birds is their eyes. I thought ravens had black eyes, and these do, but they also have a gold ring around their eyes. (They must be a different species of raven than the kind I’ve seen hanging out by the restaurant dumpsters on La Playa Boulevard. Those birds seem smaller and more wary of people.) It’s so weird how the Newcastle Beach ravens stare right back at me, totally unafraid. I can tell that they’re intelligent. It’s the way they look at me, like they know me. But it’s not just that they recognize me—it’s something more, something almost alien, but familiar at the same time. I can’t quite describe it, but there’s some kind of connection between us. And I swear one of them has this little beaky smile and this mischievous look in his eyes—it’s like he’s keeping a secret. But if he is, he’s not talking.

I’ve started dreaming about this bird. More flashes of images than a full-fledged dream, I guess, but I keep seeing him on a beach, standing next to a silver seashell. I had to paint him because I can’t get the image out of my mind.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2012