but scraps of meat by then too, just like it said in the nature book in her father’s bookcase. A magpie was a crow, a colourful one, and she always saw crows around any animals killed on the roads. And then it happened. A dull morning spat the magpie onto the fence. After a few seconds cocking its head on one side, then the other, the bird, her bird, hopped onto the patio stones, gobbled the bread and meat, dabbed at the milk. With the offerings a few yards closer, the following morning, the bird returned, dropping straight down, any sign of nerves gone. How, then, to coax him, (she decided it had to be him), into the house, either by the window, or the back door? How to do it without her mother and her father noticing, for the time being, at least? Perhaps, another week of gifts, bringing the magpie closer and closer to the backdoor, the kitchen. And then more gifts left out on the kitchen floor, or the windowsill. The week passed without a hitch, despite that one morning when the girl had to go to the dentist instead, and there was no milk or bread. Day seven, and she chose the windowsill, leaving the window open, and placed a little extra milk on the kitchen table, along with the glitter of a milk bottle top. Sitting perfectly still, at the far end of the kitchen, the girl knew that, after today, nothing could ever be the same. She would always feel the acid bite in her chest, hear her own blood-rush, every time the magpie crossed her mind, or appeared as another of its kind, among the tree-jostle of parks and roadsides. The familiar stoop, and cocked beak, tweezered through the windowsill’s offerings, before settling at the table, jabbing at the milk bottle top, and flying clean through the open window, with its prize.