In the Land of Before, Raven had a twin Brother. Besides being extremely intelligent and full of trickery, besides having an innate love of games, each brother had specific talents. Raven’s gifts were his guile and beauty, while his Brother was known for his voice and charm. The Humans said that Raven’s beauty could call forth the Sun on a cloudy day and his Brother’s voice could make the Sky weep with joy.
Raven would spend his days preening, admiring himself in the tidal pools while his Brother would fly over the Earth serenading the Humans. And even though everyone recognized Raven’s magnificent features, were beguiled by his handsomeness, they loved Raven’s twin for his generous spirit.
One day Old Man happened to be wandering by the tidal pools and noticed Raven gazing at his reflection. “Hello Raven,” Old Man said. “I see you’re spending your time wisely.”
“Just look at how exquisite I am Old Man,” Raven said. “Who could resist gazing on a visage as pleasing as this? I certainly can not.”
“If only you could sing as divinely as your Brother,” Old Man said. “Then the Humans would adore you too.”
Raven hopped on a rock, cocked his head at the Old Man and said, “What’s this? You think the Humans love my Brother more?”
“Most definitely,” the Old Man said.
It was then, at that very moment, that Raven decided he must steal the love of the Humans away from his Brother. Raven didn’t care about being useful. He only wanted to be treasured, cherished. More than his Brother.
The next day Raven was walking through the Forest when he came upon his Brother, accidentally on purpose. “Hello Brother of mine,” Raven said, but he threw his voice so that it sounded as if he had a bad cold.
“What’s wrong, Raven,” his Brother asked. “You don’t sound so good.”
“I’ve got a tickle in my throat,” Raven said.
“Is this a trick, Raven? You are the only one who loves pranks more than I do.”
“No joke, Brother. My voice has been bothering me for some few days now. Could you take a look?”
Raven’s twin Brother hovered nearby, still wary of some shenanigans in the making.
Raven made himself cough, patted himself on his chest and then opened his mouth. “Take a peek.” He motioned for his Brother to gaze deep inside.
“I don’t see anything.”
“Look closer,” Raven said, opening his mouth wider while pounding his chest with his fist.
Now concerned for Raven’s health, his Brother came even nearer. Near enough that Raven was able to swallow him.
“Now I’ll–” Raven croaked out. He patted his chest for real this time. “Now I’ll have my brother’s voice–” The words came out rough, almost like a real cough. “That and my pleasing appearance. All the Humans will love me.” Exhausted, he sat on a rock and gazed out at the Puget Sound. “I just need to become accustomed—Caw, Caw–accustomed to wielding such a powerful voice. Caw. It’ll just take a bit of getting used to. Caw.”
But try as he might, not only could he not sing, he couldn’t even talk easily any more. He cawed out every word, as if there were feathers continually tickling his throat.
The next day, Old Man came out to the tidal pools. “Where’s your Brother been, Raven?”
“That sounds pretty bad. I can’t really understand you.”
“Caw—Caw—” Raven struggled to sound out the words. But they wouldn’t coalesce in his throat.
“Sound like you’ve got a Brother, umm sounds like you’ve got a Frog in your throat.” The Old Man laughed. “But I guess we’ll never know.” Before he turned to walk away, he said, “I just wanted you to know that the Humans have erected a tribute to your missing Brother, a Mountain pass. Not only will it be useful to the Humans, as your Brother was, it will also, when the Wind whistles down the tunnel, remind them of your Brother’s lovely voice.”
“What’s that you say? They still adore him? Why yes they do. Even more.”
~ 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.