My dear Nana, never to be called superstitious, instead had some of the greatest admonitions of all time. One of my favorites was that after combing or brushing one’s hair, the waste should never be thrown in the trash but rather must be flushed or burned; this was due to the fact, she would say, that birds would pick in the trash, find the thrown-away hair, and use it in their nests, which would bring terribly bad luck to the one from whose head the hair had come. I guess Colin and Patricia from today’s Write Now! prompt found out the hard way…
There were days when she simply could not stand even the sight of him: Patricia stood gazing out the window and deeply into her mind’s eye as she nearly scrubbed the flowers off the plate she’d been absentmindedly wiping for the past ten minutes as she fumed over the conversation with Colin from earlier that morning. After thirty years of marriage she found him irritatingly wholesome. With the children gone, he’d busied himself with household projects, pet adoptions, and astrology. She loved her new dressing room and it was great that the mud room roof no longer leaked. The cats were good company and so was the dog before it ran off. It was the astrology she had a problem with. As he read the horoscopes over his eggs this morning, Colin had seen an advertisement for some sort of pet fortune teller; evidently, for two pounds (sterling, of course) one could discover the mysteries of the Orient and their best pet options. She had rolled her eyes as he read it to her and a few more times since then. As she had cleared the table, he had gone off and rang the number for an appointment! Honestly, she huffed aloud to the empty kitchen and wiped the same plate four more times.
She had almost wiped all the flowers off all the plates by the time Colin returned. She was pleased to see that he was empty-handed, as she had feared he would come back with the entire Kensington Animal Fair inventory. He went off to his study without a word, and she refused to succumb to her brewing curiosity about his visit to the fortune teller. As she drank her evening tea, she heard Colin mumbling in the living room; he hadn’t said so much as two words to her at supper and so his apparent new-found talkativeness angered her all the more.
“Patricia, love!” Colin called sweetly as he came into the bedroom; she eyed him suspiciously and didn’t open her mouth. “Love,” he repeated, “Guess what my best pet turned out to be?” Her stony silence did nothing to stop his chattering. “Birds, love! My best pets are birds. Sure, the cats won’t be too happy if I go and get a great grey parrot or something, but I don’t have to do any of that. I just need to follow the fortune teller’s instructions and the birds should come to us!”
Patricia sighed, but said nothing as Colin went into the loo, humming a tune under his breath; had she watched, she would have seen him gathering scraps of hair from both their brushes before he left the room. He took the two small bundles of hair and left them on the porch as the fortune teller had instructed.
Neither Colin or Patricia slept very well that night; he complained of a piercing headache and she had a bad nosebleed. Eventually, they both fell into an uncomfortable slumber due only to their exhaustion: feeling ever weaker as the hours passed, their suddenly-ill bodies simply gave out.
Patricia awoke the next morning, feeling worse than she ever had in her life; she’d fought walking pneumonia once and this whatever it was felt at least ten times worse. She was at first grateful that the noise she’d heard upon waking was in fact not inside her head but was coming from outside. It was however, disturbing enough that she made her way weakly to the window which overlooked the front yard. She managed to let out a yelp which startled Colin, who made his way to her side, feeling as though a giant lorry was parked on his chest. Still groggy and in pain with eyes adjusting to the scene below, Colin awoke to find an unkindness of ravens filling the lawn, and a single raven perched expectantly on the front porch where the two small bundles of hair had been the night before.