My name is Nonny, a name I gave to myself. My best friend is my crow. I named my crow "Runt," because when I found him, he'd been kicked out of his nest for being too small. Kind of like me, insomuch as he couldn't help being him, and I couldn't help being me. Runt got big pretty fast, though, but he stills sticks with me instead of his own kind.
That's because he's mine and I'm his.
Runt starts cawing, so I scratch his head. He's so whiny sometimes, like a baby, but unlike a baby, there's no way to ignore something as loud as a lion and as obnoxious as scraping two pieces of glass together.
He nips at my finger, and I flick his black beak lightly. Stupid Runt. It's hot and dusty, and I don't have time for his diva mode.
Dust. I cringe. It's not exactly dust, and it's not exactly dirt. It's a tiny, rough, brownish substance that gets everywhere I don't want it to get, and leaves this dry, gritty smell in my nose. The only good thing about it is, well…nevermind. Dirt is annoying.
I pile up a little mound, and Runt pecks at me again. He's saying we should get moving, because the corn in the field is blowing and the sun is bright and the sky is blue.
So, I do get moving. In fact, I run. I run so fast my knees want to keep going and my legs pound against the earth like hands beating a drum. The world is a snare and my heart is a bongo.
The cornstalks brush against me like blades of green rain, washing away the smell of dirt and bathing me in sunlight. I'm clean and yet I still have all the same dust on me.
Runt calls above my head, swooping and circling with shine flashing off his black wings. When he flies, he looks like a grown-up. It's hard to explain why, but when he flies, Runt has to grow up really fast, because flying is an art. It's not something he can do while whining and nipping at me, so he has to act as big as he looks. He has to be graceful.
I guess, if I'm like a drum, Runt is like a flute. Gliding.
I hear another kind of rustling in the corn, and stop.
"Runt, go see who's there, please?" I rub my coarse throat. I haven't used it in a while, so it's really rough. Not as bad as Runt's, of course, but it's not as easy to talk as it used to be.
Runt disappears for a few minutes, and I plop down onto the soft earth, silent in the smell of growing things. I'm so silent and still that the bugs crawling around by my hands don't notice I'm there.
Runt returns to me in a graceful dive, cawing into my ear. He says it's a human male, and that the human has a gun. I hold even stiller. It might be my daddy, and daddy always shoots me. He will shoot me forever until I die. That's what he promised, because the blood on my chin is never mine.
I can hear his footsteps, loud and crunchy. Daddy doesn't understand the trick to cornfields, how to float over them like a flute or to leap through them like a drum. Daddy's slow and clumsy when it comes to living, or so I like to say.
The crunchies come closer, and I see his plaid shirt a few feet away, along with the cunning gleam on the gun barrel. I do the crab crawl, edging away, but I can't change Daddy's path. His path will lead him to seeing me before I can avoid it.
He sees me and the gun barrel roars. A hot, stinging bullet goes through the middle of my forehead. Daddy's aim has improved.
I fall backwards and can't move, and Daddy stands over me. His eyes look as cold as his gun, and he shoots me again, this time through my heart. He shoots my eyes out, and then my jaw, and my shoulders and feet. Daddy really does have good aim.
I wonder if I'm supposed to be hurting, but there is nothing sad in Daddy wanting to kill me, and being shot doesn't really hurt anymore. Nothing hurts, exactly. Not anymore.
Daddy leans down beside me, stroking my forehead. "No blood, huh?" He whispers, and I can't help but tingle from his voice. It's so low and smooth and velvety, like looking as far away as I can until the ground and the sky become the same.
Salty tears fall onto my face, and to let him keep touching my forehead with his warm, leathery hands, I hold as still as death. That's what he wants for me, and if I pretend like a good girl, Daddy will love me for a little while.
Then, Daddy picks me up, and I pretend to be dead, just like Daddy wants me to be. I let him carry me away, out of the cornfield that he is so clumsy in, and into the unfiltered sunlight.
He carries me all over the dirt-and-pebble road, to a place that smells like metal and gasoline. It also smells a little like rust and rubber, and when he puts me in a wooden box, I know where I am.
Daddy put me in a coffin on his truck. He nails the lid shut, and this time, he uses more than the four nails he used last time. It took a lot longer to pound all of them into the maple, so I guessed he'd used about twenty.
The truck started to move, making burping noises in the exhaust. I didn't like the bumpiness, either, because the box was very small and jostling made me hit my head a lot.
A few minutes later, Daddy picked up the coffin and slid it into a hole. I fell for only a second and the coffin slammed into dirt, throwing me against the lid. Daddy said a few prayers in a weird language, and shoveled earth onto the hole.
It took Daddy hours to finish, and I started crying. I hate the darkness. I hate the stuffy air. I want to run in the cornfields and never be in a tiny place again. I scream, beating my fists against the wood. Then, I claw at it and scrape my teeth along the lid.
It will take me many days, but I will get out. I will get out, and Runt and me will race through the cornfields and into the town, and I will cover myself in more and more blood until my hatred goes away.
And if I see Daddy, I will not pretend to be dead again. I will go at him and eat him up so that he will never put me in the darkness again. I will kill Daddy.
And after I kill Daddy, I will kill everyone who made him want to put me in the coffins. I will kill them for making Daddy hate me. I will swallow them up inside my belly, which is never full and always hungry for evil, hate-filled people.
My name is Nonny, and one day, I will get out, and Daddy won't be able to put me away again.