It was a sweet day. Eva, a seven-year-old with an incurable case of hiccups, finished off the last of her strawberry ice cream.
"Ah, " she said, patting her full belly. Hiccup. Hiccup.
Without wasting a second, she pounced on her bucket.
"Now will you guys look for seashells-hic- with me?" she said, looking at her parents.
Her mom was sprawled out on her beach towel. She clutched a book in one hand, and a cell phone in the other. A baseball hat covered her face. Her dad laid next to her. His belly stuck up like a hill, collapsing occasionally as he SNORED.
"Guuuys," she said a little louder. Hiccup!
"Five more minutes," came a muffled response from under the hat.
"Ditto," chimed in her dad groggily.
"No more buts...those are for laying down on and--YAWN--napping," said her mom.
"The crow! The crow is coming!" shrieked someone from across the beach.
The beach stuffed with napping adults and bored kids sprung into action. People looked up and pointed toward a black dot closing in on the horizon.
"It's coming. It's coming!" Echoed throughout the beach.
Towels and ice boxes were abandoned. Parents grabbed their kids, one per arm, and dashed toward the parking lot.
Eva's parents were carried off in a tidal wave of people.
"Eva!" cried her parents.
The police slammed the gates to the beach.
Her parents were trapped on the outside.
Eva was alone with the crow.
Her head whipped around, she didn't see the birtd.
But no one ever did before they disappeared.
Eva heard her teacher's nasally voice ringing in her ears. "It could happen to anyone. You must be prepared when the crow descends. Find a hiding place."
Eva spotted a cave to her far right. Safety. She took off towards it.
Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup.
Chills crawled up her spine. The creature was closing in. She couldn't look back, it'd slow her down. Her foot caught on a rock. She fell face first, sand sprayed out around her.
"Owie," she said. Tears streamed down her face. She looked at the locked gates, "Hic--mommy..."
"Be strong, Eva!" Her mom clawed at the metal fence, trying to pry it open.
Eva picked herself up and limped to the cave. Her right foot hurt really bad.
Eva fell again at the entrance. Scrambling on all fours she escaped deeper into the cavern. The rocky ground dug into her hands and feet. She stopped at hid behind a large rock. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. She covered her mouth, trying to muffle the sound of her hiccups. Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Eva closed her eyes and held her breath.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Was that the crow? She had to see what was making the noise. She peeked out from her rock.
The thing stood at the doorway of the cave.
"Eek!" she dove back behind her wall. "You can't make me disa--hic-ppear!"
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Eva inched out from behind the rock. "Please, go away. Shoo."
The crow tilted its head and stood on one foot.
A giggle escaped. "You're kinda funny lookin," said Eva.
The bird bobbed its head up and down, like it was agreeing with her.
Eva chuckled again.
The crow hopped out of sight. When it returned it was balancing a pink seashell on its head. "Caw."
Eva laughed, she laughed so hard that she forgot about the pain in her right foot. She forgot about the dried tears on her cheeks. She even forgot that she needed to be scared.
The animal shook the treasure of its head. It nudged it forward with its beak.
Eva took a couple steps toward the crow. "You're not as scary as they said. You wouldn't--hic-make me disappear." Her footsteps grew less shaky with every step.
This was it.
She was face to face with the crow. She picked up the gift and held up to her ear.
Eva smiled ear to ear. She loved how a tiny thing could capture the great big ocean, without spilling a drop of water. She shook it just to be sure. Yup, no water.
The bird tilted its head and gave a, "Caaaaw."
Being braver than she ever had before in her life, she patted the bird.
Shaking its feathers out, it took to the sky. It left behind one black feather.
Eva put the feather in her shirt pocket and patted it.
"Bye," she said, without a hint of hiccups. They, like the crow, were gone.