I perch on the rim of a clay pitcher. Water is inside. I can smell it. I am thirsty. I grip the rim of the pitcher with my claws, tense my legs, and duck my head down. My beak cannot reach the top of the water.
A black shape is in the pitcher. Maybe it is another crow. It moves when I do. How it can live underwater? Maybe it is a black fish or an animal that doesn’t breathe. Maybe someone caught it and is keeping it there to eat later.
However it got there, the thing in the pitcher has all the water. It takes up space. If it were not there, the water would be lower. I have an idea.
I hop off the rim to the ground and find a pebble. I grab the pebble in my beak, fly back to the pitcher, and drop the pebble in the water. It makes a lovely sound, plop. I find another pebble and drop it in the water. Plop.
I try again to drink. The water is still too low. I find another pebble and drop it in the water. I do this again and again.
This time when I try to drink, I get a little water. It tastes fresh, not at all like a fish. My thirst is keener than ever.
I go back to the pebbles. I lose count of how many pebbles I fetch. Plenty of pebbles lie on the ground. No chance of running out. The water is there, and I want it.
At last the water rises enough to provide a good drink. I want more, but is it worth the effort? I pause, and my claws grip the rim of the pitcher. I listen and smell and look at my surroundings. Should I call the other crows to share what I found? Should I look for food?
Someone is watching me. He watches like a predator, stock still and all attention. He probably isn’t dangerous, too big and slow, unless he has a pebble in his claw. If he wants the pitcher of water, he can have it. But he can’t catch me.
I fly to the branch of a tree and scan the area. I can come back later. Maybe he will be gone by then. Maybe the pitcher of water will still be here.
Robert Boucheron grew up in Syracuse and Schenectady, NY. He has worked as an architect in New York City and Charlottesville, VA. His short stories and essays appear in Bangalore Review, Fiction International, London Journal of Fiction, New Haven Review, Oxford Magazine, Pennyshorts, Poydras Review, Short Fiction, and other magazines.