[1/19 — corrected a grammatical error]
Cassandra Wernick (known as Sandy to some of her friends (although she was still called Cassie by the friends who remembered her from grade school, when she had chosen (after deciding in the summer of her twelfth year that any name that ended in an -ie (or -ie for that matter, or even -ee or -y) sounded like a child’s name, and she no longer felt comfortable being treated like a child) to be called by that name), for that was what she had called herself since middle school) was sitting at the table in the kitchen of the house where she lived with her mother and sometimes her grandmother although she was away for the weekend visiting her sister, alone.
Kaw. The sound of the crow outside the window caught her attention. She saw it swoop down onto the hard brown dirt of the house’s back yard, the bird’s talons brushing the thin dandruff of snow as it landed. It pecked at the dirt, and again — then looked up, its black eyes making contact with the gaze of the girl, who remembered for that first time that day that she was a member of the Bark Bay fencing team, because they didn’t call her Sandy or Cassie or Cassandra but rather The Bird, because Double-J had said on that first day she was a practice that she jerked her head around like a bird and when Annie had told him to stop being a jerk tease she said no it was OK, because she actually liked the name. But she was still called Sandy or Cassie at school, and her mother always called her Cassandra, and today, alone in her house, she had not remembered the name the fencing team had given her until the crow made eye contact with her, then unfolded its broad wings from its back and flapped twice, snow whisking along the ground as the bird lifted, disappearing into the gray sky.