He walked slowly through the tall grass and weeds, picking his way along the unseen dirt road he knew by heart. The sun was just now touching the horizon and red beams of light were dancing across the field. How different this place was now.
Crane started taking longer strides as the hill grew steeper and he could see the peak of the old grey house peering at him through the tall grass. Every couple of years he found himself needing to come back here, to this long forgotten field and dilapidated house. Whenever he found himself questioning his memories and wondering if perhaps he had just imagined the entire ordeal, he returned. He finally crested the steep hill and stopped to take in the full sight of his childhood home. The shutters had long ago fallen off and the trees had started claiming the foundation for their own, but the place had always been in desperate need of repair. It was only a matter of time before the place collapsed completely, and Crane always had a nagging fear that one day it would be merely a fading memory.
He dropped his backpack onto the ground, the same one he'd carried during his college years, and walked up the front stairs. He cleared away the spider webs around the handle and pushed open the creaking door, he half expected to see her standing there, scarf wrapped around her gray head and that perpetual scowl set upon her lips. But when the door opened, the place was empty save for a few crows that flew out of a giant hole in the roof.
He let out the air that he'd held and smiled a bit to himself. Same old house, same old crows. That much was good to see. Ironically enough, the crows loved this place more than she did. The floor was spattered with a fresh coat of bird droppings and the stairway was missing a large chunk in the middle, creating a five-foot gap that would have to be jumped to go upstairs. Pity. He'd been looking forward to going through her things again. He looked around for a few minutes more before picking up his backpack again and heading down to the Aviary. He always saved the hardest part for last.
It took a good bit of strength for him to pull open the heavy iron door. Inside it was empty save for the final rays of sunlight pouring in from above and the creak of the door echoing off the walls, but Crane knew better than to be deceived. They were watching him, waiting for him to make his move. Taking a deep breath he stepped inside, only to be blinded by the black crows that filled the room. Crane found himself instinctively shielding his eyes and backing out as quickly as possible. He fell back against the door, feeling it close under his weight as he slid to the ground, shaking. Those birds never forgot him.