Who could that be at this hour? Faustine wondered, glancing at the clock. No reasonable person would turn up on the doorstep at five in the morning.
Faustine stepped into her slippers, pulled her robe snugly around her neck and went to open the door.
No one stood on the threshold. No one stood in the laneway. She leaned out to peer around in the creeping light of dawn. Fingers of purple and gold light trailed across the sky, casting strange shadows. And then she saw them.
Two large black crows were perched solemnly in the tree outside the house.
“Oh shit,” said Faustine.
She closed the door and ran to the kitchen. The corkboard was full of notes and pictures and appointment reminder cards. She shuffled through the tiny paperwork, knocking thumbtacks to the floor in her haste. Finally, she found what she was looking for. It was innocuous. Just a little red square of paper with a date scribbled on it and the words “Non-Negotiable” stamped beneath the date in big black letters.
Faustine looked at the date, then looked at her calendar.
“Oh shit,” she said again.
She wondered how the time had got away from her. On the mantel in her living room sat all her awards and trophies. Their gold plaques glimmered as the rising sun caught their edges. She wandered down the hallway to her bedroom. Pictures of her exploits lined the walls, perfect moments captured forever.
Outside, the crows began to call out.
Faustine opened her closet doors. So many beautiful clothes to choose from, she thought. She settled on a dress made of the finest emerald-green silk, dressing carefully so as not to pull the fabric. Next, she fixed her hair, brushing it until it gleamed like polished ebony. Then she sat at her vanity and applied a little make-up – the effect was subtle but powerful. Finally, she added jewellery. A necklace of white gold sprinkled with diamonds, earrings to match, and an antique silver wristwatch in the Art Deco style. She paused to admire her finished self in the mirror.
The crows were cawing loudly now. From the sound of it, there must have been dozens out there. A murder of crows, Faustine thought, a sardonic smile twisting the corners of her mouth. She walked back down the hallway to the front door.
She turned at the threshold of her house, drinking in its perfection for one last time. No regrets, she told herself. A deal’s a deal.
Faustine stepped outside and let the crows escort her to her new home.
This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy challenge #94. Submissions must be under 1000 words and must begin with the following line: Who could that be at this hour?
In addition, submissions must reference the photo prompt, which is the following image: