The Secret Way into the Cemetery

0903121607aUvi & Asbe, the story continues… (a bit of back story from my work in progress)

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Father has taken the long way around, the correct way, the way that Grandfather and Grandmother Ward would take, Mommy takes them through the shortcut. Even so, in the squeaky, pinchy shoes, the walk feels forever. Each step makes Asbe want to wrench the shoes from her feet and throw them as far as she can.

“Don’t snag your clothes,” Mommy says as they sneak through the hole in the shrubs.

As Asbe follows Uvi through the secret passage, she keeps a close watch for the cat. One of Asbe’s favorite stories is how, on one of Mommy’s walks, while she was pregnant with Asbe and Uvi, she followed a cat hoping it would share its wisdom, and it did. The cat showed her the secret way into the cemetery.

The cat told her that the dead are always with us. To be wary, but not afraid.

Asbe likes coming here. Mommy lets her and Uvi run around, lets them play hide and seek or tag. Once Mommy even brought a picnic. She found a grassy spot with a view of the sound, and they spent the afternoon snacking and playing and telling stories.

And she always leaves a bit of food for the cat.

Of course, Father doesn’t know about those times. He wouldn’t approve.

 

How Raven got His Shadow

IMG_20140321_172306Remember the stories that Mother used to tell us?  The ones about Bear and Raven and all the others. In the land of Before, that’s how they always started.  So let’s start this story the same way.

Long ago, in the land of Before, in the time when the Humans were new to the earth, Raven had a twin.

Raven loved his twin, and his twin loved him so much that they never were apart. Their devotion became legendary, so much so that they became the favorites of the Humans.

“Look at how beautiful they are,” the Humans would say. “And between the two of them they share such wisdom, all the wisdom of the universe.”

“They are the wisest, the most beautiful, the most kind, most generous…” The Humans could find no fault with Raven and his twin.

And things may have been okay if the Humans had spread their love around, if they had found even one fault with the two. But they didn’t. Even Raven’s trickery became a thing of glory and humor, because the love he and his twin shared was all-encompassing.

Time went by as it does, and the Others grew tired of being over shadowed, of being viewed as Lesser. So they banded together and plotted the demise of the glorious couple.

“I can hold them under water until they lose their wings and grow fins,” Ocean said. “That way the Humans will not be able to see their devotion to each other.”

“I can trap them in a bottomless cavern,” Mountain said. “That way no one will be able to hear their wisdom.”

“I can shine so brightly, that no human will be able to see their beauty,” said Sun.

“I can blow such a breeze,” said Wind, “That they will be forever separated.”

But no one was happy because none of the solutions were sure. For each suggestion there was a chance that the twins would be reunited or that they would escape. And so they decided that getting rid of at least one of the twins was necessary.

Coyote, much like Raven, was a trickster. One night, long after the moon had fallen below the earth, the Conspirators met to listen to Coyote’s suggestion.

“We have to separate them for all eternity,” Coyote said. “Which means we have to send one, or both, of them to the After.”

“How will we do that?” Otter said.

Eagle said, “I suggest we appeal to their sense of greatness. We set them a task, a dangerous task. One they’ll want to complete for the sake of the Humans.”

“And for the sake of what the Humans will think of them.” Coyote laughed. “Because deep down, Raven and his twin are, after all, vain creatures like the rest of us.”

“I could hide,” said Sun. “And they would search for me, because the Humans fear the dark. They would fly too close—”

“No, I have the plan,” said Coyote. “An even better plan.”

And so the Conspirators began playing terrible tricks on the Humans and blaming Raven and his twin. Raven did it became their mantra. And as the years flew by, many foul deeds became attributed to Raven and his twin, so many that some Humans began to fear Raven and his twin.

Humans have short memories. No longer were Raven and his twin thought of as the generous, beautiful twins, as the funny, benevolent tricksters who stole the light and gave it to the Humans. As the two whose thievery benefitted the Humans more often than themselves.

And so, for one Chief, fear turned to anger and then hatred, so much so that the Chief plotted Raven and his twin’s death.

The Chief invited the twins to visit him, said he had planned a grand feast in their honor, but after the sumptuous meal, while they were napping, the Chief threw a bag over Raven and his twin. He tied the bag tightly, and though they struggled, they couldn’t get out.

“What’s this game you’re playing?” Raven said.

“I’m taking you to the mountaintop.”

“Why?” said Raven.

The Chief ignored him, even though the whole time he climbed the mountain, Raven peppered at him with questions.

Sensing some deception at work, Raven warned the Chief that he should be careful, that he should take care to never hurt Raven or his twin because they were loved by the Humans.

When the Chief reached the mountaintop, he threw the bag over the cliff. “You shouldn’t make a Chief mad, like that?” he shouted as the bag tumbled down the mountainside.

As it bumped against the sharp rocks, the bag ripped open and Raven escaped. His twin was not so lucky. The bag caught one of his wings and threw him off balance as he toppled out. Raven’s twin’s head smashed against a rock, and he fell to his death.

Raven gathered up his twin’s broken body and flew.

For many days and months and years, Raven stayed in seclusion because life without a twin made no sense. It was as if half of him were gone.

The Humans, now ashamed, mourned the twins and the light and happiness they had brought. So much so, a malaise fell over the world.

The Others took fright that they might all be forgotten. They worried that the Humans would learn of their deceit and shun them into non-existence. After all, the Humans had exiled the Chief who killed Raven’s twin.

So, the Conspirators met again in the dark of the night. They thought and thought, argued and discussed—for so long that the night went on for three days.

At what should have been the first hour of morning on the fourth day, Sun had an idea, and all the Conspirators agreed that it was an excellent solution.

Whenever there was light to see, Raven’s image, his spirit twin would follow him, would be there with him.

And not only would Raven have this twin, this shadow self, Sun would also give it to all the Humans so that no one would ever forget Raven’s twin.

~ o ~

*NOTE: this fable is my own creation, but is referential in style and story to the many Native American Raven stories that I’ve read. It will be used, at least in part, in my Work in Progress.

Asbe & Uvi – The Story Begins

This is the first little bit of a sub-story that I’m writing as part of my Work-in-Progress. There’s much more. In fact I’m working on it today, much further into this story line, but I thought I’d share some of it with you.  It’s still in the first draft phase.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

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Asbe pretends to be asleep as Uvi creeps toward her. Father won’t let them sleep in the same bed, says it’s not right. So, as soon as Uvi wakes, he sneaks into bed with her. Every day he tries to trick her. He tries so hard to be quiet, wanting to scare her or maybe surprise her, but he has all the grace of a baby bear.

With her eyes closed, she pictures him getting nearer, can hear each tip-toed step across their bedroom’s rugs, first his football rug and then her Winnie the Pooh rug. She can hear his soft intake of breath as his excitement builds, feels him climb up onto her bed. She pretends to roll over in her sleep facing him so that he doesn’t have to crawl over her. Last time, scrambling over her, his knee went into her belly making her nearly pee on herself.

She waits until he’s poised, kneeling on the bed beside her, waits until she feels his warm breath on her face. He has done this a thousand times, yet he is still surprised when she opens her eyes and whispers in their secret language, “<Caught you.>”

Uvi falls down on the bed beside her and laughs. She loves the sound of his laughter. So she reaches her hands out and tickles him until they are both wiggling and giggling, quietly.

After tickling is over, they snuggle together, Uvi wrapping his arms around her, both relishing the moment. Once Father is aware they’re awake, they will have to be separate. It feels unnatural to be separate, but even at age five they know to obey Father.

“<How old are we today?>” Uvi says.

Asbe holds up her hand showing five fingers. “<This many.>”

“<Nu-uh.>”

She hugs him close. “<Hu-huh, our birthday.>”

“<What we do today?>”

“<Don’t know.>”

Uvi pushes her away and clambers his way to his knees, sensing the air like a dog. “<I smell pancakes.>”

“<I hope they’re blueberry.>”

“<Me too. Birthday pancakes.>” Falling back onto the bed facing her, he laughs as if it’s the funniest joke he’s ever heard and then slaps his hand over his mouth.

Asbe puts a finger to his lips, reminding him to be quiet.

He nods.

She tugs the blanket over him. “<Maybe the park?>”

He smiles, his eyes closing. “<Maybe a party.>”

She pulls him closer, breathing in the scent of sleep sweat on his jammies and the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo that Mommy uses on both of them, and allows her eyes to close as well, allows herself to feel how natural it is to have Uvi beside her. Just for a couple of minutes.

Flash.Fiction: Time and Tide

Yes, it’s another Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction contest entry.  It’s unusual for me to do two so close together, but when I looked at the picture, I couldn’t resist.  I’m planning a vacation to an island in the San Juan’s and the picture made me think of what might be while I’m on vacation.

I read through the other entries, and I think I have put a unique spin on the story.

This week’s prompt is:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

That kid in the picture is my little brother, Andy. In 1987, he got carried away by an undertow at this very beach. The authorities never recovered his body.

I took this picture of him yesterday, when he walked up out of the water as if nothing had happened.

And this is my story based on the prompt:

For just a moment I’m sure I’ve lost my mind. The boy, it’s Andy, my twin, but it can’t be Andy. Andy died. When we were kids, Andy died. The undertow took him from us, never to be found again.

I draw near, wary that a grownup approaching a young boy might look suspicious. But I can’t stay away. I have to see this boy. This ghost I’ve just captured on film.

As I suspected, a woman rushes up, grabs the boy’s hand, and asks me what I’m doing. The boy pulls away and runs further up the beach.

“It’s just… He looks like my brother, Andy. When we were kids.”

Never taking her eyes off the boy, the woman must sense my sadness.

“That’s funny.” She smiles, nodding toward the boy. “His name’s Andrew. But we call him Andy. For some reason, his father was adamant he be called Andy, wouldn’t consider anything else.”

“Daddy, Daddy,” the boy shouts holding up a starfish. “Look what I found.”

The father looks up from where he sits on the beach and waves at the boy.

There’s something about the father. I move closer.

The man stands, picks up the boy, and my heart skips a beat. Can it be? My brother, Andy, fully grown, my twin, stands before me. I walk up to him.

Hugging the boy safe, he extends his hand. “Name’s George. Can I help you?”

My mouth drops open. “Were you adopted?”

He frowns. “How’d you know?”

Fresh Start

Lately, I’ve stalled in my writing efforts. I’ve let lots of things get in the way, including a soul-sucking 9-5 job, but I’m coming back. Not as quickly as I’d like, but this new website is an indication that I’m starting to build steam again. For the past couple of years, I’ve told myself that I’d put together a website, more than a blog, and I kept putting it off because it seemed like such an effort.  But I did it.  Over the past week, I’ve built a website that I hope represents me.  The theme is elegant grunge which sort of sums up my whole personality.

I’ve also been writing some of the back story for my new novel [working title: the twins]. And I believe, after several iterations, that I have finally developed Beryl’s voice. Part of my hesitation is that with An Untold Want, I went through several re-writes, changing the tense or the PoV. This time, I want to know if Beryl is going to speak or if the story will be third person, before I write a majority of the book. And it’s looking like this will be a first-person/past-tense story which is totally different than An Untold Want.  This book will be more like Couillon in style, a little more fast paced than An Untold Want, but still falling into the literary genre.