Missing Crows by William Falo

William Falo tells the story of a world-weary crow.

The smell lured her and she flew closer to the ground. The dead animal was on the side of the road near the entrance to a bridge and she wanted to be the first, but another crow landed before her. It was her partner, he roosted next to her at night. She tried to land next to him, but her landing was clumsy. An impact with a car had left her with broken, dangling feathers, causing her to fly in crazy patterns and to fall over when she landed, much to the amusement of the other crows. He called her zig-zag due to her erratic flying.

She fell on her beak this time. He hissed. It was his way of laughing. Above them, the sky darkened with black forms coming closer. Food was scarce lately due to all the building in the area. The woods shrunk and the animals vanished.

She looked around. The road meant danger and the bridge made it hard to see anything coming until it was too late. Her wings twitched at the thought of a car impact. She had been lucky to survive the first time.

The other crows landed one after another. It became too crowded and skirmishes broke out. She tried to stay next to her partner, but soon lost track of him. The ground vibrated and a roar came from the other side of the bridge. A large truck approached, its wide load took up the whole street all the way to the tree line. A few crows cawed warnings, but a flurry of wings made takeoff hard and those who had landed first couldn't get off the ground.

She hopped up and down hoping her partner would notice. It was too crowded and there wasn't enough time. She took off and just cleared the approaching truck. One crow cawed louder than the rest and she was sure she heard zig-zag. The truck smashed into the dead animal scattering the remains everywhere. Its roar faded in the distance and silence returned as black feathers floated down like ashes from the sky. All the crows had made it except one. She knew it was him. The feathers floated down onto the ground next to the road. She landed and placed her head down on them like they were a pillow.

The other crows drifted away, there was no food here now. A few called to her. "Zig-zag." But she stayed by the feathers. She couldn't leave.

Hours went by and the sky darkened. How could she go back to their favorite tree and have an empty spot next to her? He always roosted next to her in the tallest tree. She remained by the road and whenever a car went past, she laid on top of the feathers so they wouldn't scatter in the wind. She drifted to sleep.

When a car stopped near the bridge, she stood up.

A human got out and walked in circles puffing on something that lit up at the end. She took out a small box and talked into it. Her voice sounded like she was in pain.

"I don't care. Nobody else will ever love me like he did." The human walked to the highest part of the bridge and climbed up onto the railing. "I'm lonely." She wiped her eyes. "I miss him."

She stretched out her wings.

"Damn it." The human dropped her phone off the bridge. "Look what you made me do." The human moved closer. "You're a crow."

She flapped her wings and snapped her beak.

The human showed no fear. "I'm not scared of you."

A car came across the bridge and it sent the feathers in every direction. She tried to catch them with her beak, but there were too many.

The human ran and caught all the feathers, then put them back by the side of the road. She looked at some of them closer and saw blood on them.

"I think I know what happened here. You lost someone and you can't leave." She noticed her damaged feathers. "You're broken like me. I lost my fiancée. He died in a motorcycle accident." The human made a sad sound again. "I wanted to end it tonight."

She moved closer. No human ever came this close to her, but her wing twitched from the memory of one hitting her with a car.

The human gathered up all the feathers and dug a hole in the ground then put the feathers in it, covered them and made some marks on top of it.

"Now, you can visit here whenever you want. The feathers won't fly away."

When the human backed up, she hopped on top of the grave.

"If you stay here you will die and if I stay, I will die too. You can go home."

But she stayed by the grave.

"Don't worry. I'm not going to jump." The human walked away.

She took off and flew in a zig-zag pattern under the bridge, and picked up the small box then flew back up. When the human looked up, she dropped it then she headed toward the trees where the rest of the crows waited for daylight. When she looked back, she saw the human waving with the small box in her hand.

The next day, she noticed other empty spots in the tree. Missing crows. A few others stretched their wings and she saw damaged feathers, others balanced on broken feet, some scratching at scars, one with a band around a leg, and a few missing eyes. They were all broken. It was a dangerous world for crows. She flew to the grave and rested her head on it for a long time. She couldn't get the strength to lift off again. She missed him. Why go on? A car drove by and she remembered how the human had helped her. That one thing gave her hope. In the distance, she heard the other crows. They were having fun tearing hay out of a scarecrow someone had put in a garden. She put her head on the grave one more time then spread her wings and took off flying toward the ragtag flock. They might be a gang of misfits, but they were her family.


  1. A very gentle story about two wounded individuals helping each other. I also appreciated the animal rights message.

  2. Intriguing animal/human symbiotic incident. Whimsical. The crow returned the cel phone. The crows rely on the deadly road for food. Another symbiotic relationship.

  3. A fascinating and gentle story with a message. This story is equally suitable for children and perhaps more thought provoking as well
    Mike McC

  4. The line between human animals and other is thin. Corvids (crows, jays, ravens) are some of the smartest animals.

  5. Excellent story telling with a good message. I loved the realization that everyone was broken in some way.

  6. Touching tale of unlikely partners in grief. I thought the choice of the name Zig-zag captured the crow's brokenness perfectly.

  7. Nice work! This was charming, before becoming emotional. I really like the crow characters too.