She hovers on the fringes, casting doubts with her eyes while bodies circulate, grinning and laughing, swelling with the talk of “revolution.” The assembled mass cowers at the shadow of an intruder, tremoring at the whispered question: could there be more?

She slips away in a thick wood, a broken lantern at the trail’s end, the sole mark of her disappearance. The crows’ caucus is a racket over the tree tops, a glimmer of excitement at nearby carcasses, awaiting the dusk to begin a migration. At times she might join them, learn of news from across the trembling sky. Today she goes unnoticed, the clatter of raunchy voices a cover for careful footsteps across the floor. She finds sleep hidden in the cowl of an oak, a brief respite before her return.

A drawing of an Owl with a key on its chest.

A few strokes capture the shape of hidden violence in a candle-lit room, a meeting shrouded in the ghost-form of nameless deceptions. Eyes go white at a glimpse of the monster grinning in the corner. Leaders find broken arrows stuck in the folds of their robes—paper effigies rent with new holes. Spitting epithets, the crowd is raucous at the death of a few words, egos collapsing into now lifeless identities. The spectre of a pogrom reveals itself under the cracked veneer they had called “community.”

Razor tongues turn hungrily on the shadow where the stranger had stood. “Where is she?” The cry multiplies, echoes a thousand times in a second. The table is drowning in spilt beer, broken glass littering the floor. At once, all have become inquisitors, pupils sharpening with distrust, fingers grasping after weapons. Hands shake as they pat down robes, dark eyes peering into hoods. A knife appears in the light of the last candle, glaring metallic on the wall.

The roof is a neat escape, leaving an empty stairwell to guard her secrets. She disappears into a welcoming sky, casting a spell to silence street lamps in her wake, setting a trail for the moon.

A drawing of a fist beside a key.