Aha! All this time, I thought I’d been crazy.
Let me go back.
The school that I work for happens to be the school that I graduated from. A liberal arts college with a Creative Writing program to die paying for… I mean to die for.
You may have noticed this puts me in a Jane Eyre style position. One more liberal arts college graduate who couldn’t get a job outside the liberal arts college they graduated from. And creative writing no less.
It isn’t the point. The point is, some years ago, I was walking across a grassy field on campus. Spring was just budding in the air, kinda like it is now. I was lighthearted, free from loan payments and the nine to five work style. And then I heard it.
It sounded a little like a child drowning. A child with a cough.
I looked around for a body of water. The tell tale splash of a thrashing 5 year old. Of course, there was nothing like that. I was on campus, in the desert. We don’t have bodies of water really. We have bathtubs.
The only thing around was a skinny tree, still mostly bare from the winter. And in that tree a giant black bird. I have no idea how to tell whether tit was a raven or a crow. For the sake of the story I am going with raven. (Did you know, raven’s are capable of deceit? It’s true. If you don’t believe me, you could ask any raven. But, they will probably just lie to you.)
Clearly, though, the sound wasn’t coming from the raven.
At least I thought so until he opened wide his beak and
I walked past quickly, knowing I hadn’t imagined it, sure that I must have. I’ve told this story countless times. No one believes. The only thing I can figure is that the poor creature was raised by dolphins. Maybe orcas. He didn’t fit in well with his adoptive parents of course, and with no blowhole that strange gargling was the best he could do to communicate. The younger dolphins made fun of him behind his back, but his parents loved him.
Today, I was walking across campus again. The sun was shining like it hasn’t in months. I’m not as carefree as I was then, but I don’t have to eat Cafeteria food every day, so things were feeling pretty balanced.
Oh, hello old friend.
EDIT: I have now learned that this is a bewildering but vaguely common noise for a raven to make. My world view is shattered.