Bird cage

Wednesday the Raven

by Colin Lewis

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Chapter Twenty

Improbable Events

Edward sat on the ground and leaned back against the Tower and touched the lump on his forehead. He wondered again if he would ever find the ring. He also wondered if a person required special medical attention after being hit on the head by an earring.

Frances would know, he thought.

Edward wondered if Frances would ever forgive him.

First the ring, he thought. The ring is the important part. Once I find it, all the rest will fall into place.

There was, thought Edward, one minor problem: he had run out of places to search.

He had searched in the weeds, and he had searched between the paving stones. He had searched beneath the bushes and under the benches. He had searched all around the Tower and the Bird House and the Pond and in all the other places where it absolutely couldn’t be.

It wasn’t in any of those places.

I require something supernatural, thought Edward. I require some kind of highly improbable and extraordinary event to happen to me. For example: if a star-shaped earring can fall out of thin air, why not a ring?

Ha, he thought. That’s it. I forgot to search the sky.

Edward stood up. He was a man of action. He would not wait for the world to happen to him. He would light the fuse, drop the hammer, and flip the switch.

He would get things done.

On the count of three, he thought, I will look up into the sky and I will find the ring.

Edward counted.

One.

Not yet, he thought. Take it easy.

Two.

By the time he got to number two, Edward no longer felt certain he could make things happen. He no longer felt convinced he could get things done. When he really thought about it, he wasn’t actually a man of action. Edward began to wonder why he had decided to get up that morning.

He rubbed the lump on his head again.

I may as well say three, he thought. Even if there is no point, and even if I am not a man of action, and even if I know nothing good will come to me, I still have to say it.

“Three!” he shouted.


On the other side of the Broken Clock Tower, the young apprentice stood by the door with a key in his hand.

It’s perfectly simple, thought the young apprentice. No more dawdling. What would my mother say?

He remembered his instructions:

  1. Climb the Tower.

  2. Examine the clock.

  3. Report back.

This is the first step, thought the young apprentice. The first step is important. It begins the journey of a thousand somethings.

The problem lay in the enormous distance between where he stood and the first item on the list. It sounded simple: Climb the Tower. But climbing the Tower, he knew, was not simple. Climbing the Tower involved a number of undefined actions and risky moves.

To begin with, he would need to place the key in the lock.

The young apprentice looked at the key in his hand. He placed it in the lock. His palms began to sweat, and he wiped them on his jacket.

What came next?

Turn the key.

Okay, he thought. I’ve turned the key.

His heart immediately sent out a high priority message to his brain.

What’s going on here? said his heart. I thought we had discussed this.

We never made an agreement, said his brain.

Are you sure? I thought we had.

Sorry, said his brain. We decided not to listen to you.

I’m disappointed, said his heart.

So are we, said his brain. But this is our job, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t like it.

It does matter, said his heart. We have no time to discard our days doing things we don’t like. We can’t be late and we can’t delay. Today could be the day when everything happens.

We’re a little busy at the moment, said his brain. Maybe we could talk about this later.

Hrumph, said his heart. You’ll see.

“At the count of three,” said the young apprentice, “I will open the door.”

“Three!” shouted a voice from the other side of the Tower.

The young apprentice opened the door and entered the Tower.

So far, so good, said his brain.

Ha, said his heart. Don’t look up.

The young apprentice walked to the stairs and placed his right foot on the first step. He then placed his left foot on the second step.

One step at a time, he thought. That’s the way to climb things. If I focus on a single step at a time, I can do this.

This was true.

He also thought: I wonder how many steps there are in this tower?

This was a mistake.

The young apprentice leaned back and looked up and saw the stairs spiral high above him. The stairs began to slowly revolve.

His head began to revolve along with the stairs.

Oh, he thought.

The young apprentice lurched backward and clung to the railing. His legs wobbled, and his knees buckled as he struggled toward the exit.

Retreat! said his brain. Run away!

“Maybe,” said the young apprentice between gasps, “maybe I won’t climb the Tower today.”

I told you so, said his heart.


Edward peered up in the sky and checked to see if the ring had magically appeared.

It had not.

Even though this was exactly what Edward had expected, he still felt disappointed not to see the engagement ring falling toward him. On the other hand, it was a relief not to be hit on the head again.

Edward settled back against the Tower.

Why did I suppose I could be a man of action? he wondered. Why did I think I could get things done? I suppose today is just another day, just like yesterday, and yesterday’s yesterday, and all the days that came before. I’ve had enough.

Maybe I should give up.

Maybe I will give up.

At that moment, a tube of lipstick bounced off his head.

I knew it, thought Edward as he leapt to his feet.

Wednesday the Raven cover

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