idol friends & rivals | week eight | 1089 words
Dove and Raven were born in a clapboard house in Kentucky on a January night with no stars. Their mother said all the dogs below the hill were howling for miles.
Raven was dark and had a temperament that led her to scream until she was hoarse. Dove was fair and never cried at all. You might find Raven sneaking through the shadows in cunning pursuit of something she wanted. Dove sat in the sunlight, quiet and content with things just as they were. Sometimes she cooed happily to herself, but mostly she was silent, too absorbed in everything around her to make a sound.
Dove could make bees sing, and Raven could pull thunder and lightning down from the sky.
"Come play," Raven would call to Dove in the bright spring, the blue summer, the crisp autumn, the long, cold days of winter.
Dove did not care much for Raven's games, with their loud challenges and rough daring. She joined in from time-to-time to make Raven happy, but preferred the companionship of wild mice and the gentleness of sweet breezes. Raven found Dove's pastimes dull, and squawked her displeasure. Still, they were sisters, and as close as two such different souls could be. They kept an eye on each other, perhaps making up for their mother, who preferred to let them fend for themselves. Dove tried to soothe their troubles away while Raven fought them head on.
At night, they slept close together and waited for morning to come.
Raven was jealous at times of how others seemed to flock to Dove more than to her. Both of them were pretty, but Raven was clever and interesting too. Dove was kind and soft spoken, but she never wanted to do anything, so why did she have more friends?
Dove was neither jealous of Raven nor disapproving, and that rankled Raven all the more. Very little seemed to bother Dove at all, and Raven could not decide whether Dove was dispassionate or blessed. It was too strange a thing to understand.
One morning, a wolf wandered into the garden where Dove spent her days. Dove waited, silent and unmoving, thinking that perhaps the wolf had no interest in her at all.
Poor Dove was utterly wrong.
The wolf moved closer and closer, and suddenly lunged at her between one breath and the next. Dove took flight, moving away as fast as she could.
It mattered little, for the wolf was faster.
He was about to snatch her out of the air when Raven flew at him, clawing his eyes and screeching fit to wake the world. The wolf stepped back, unprepared for such an attack, and Raven fought him all the harder. There was blood running down the wolf's face when he turned and ran away, leaving the sisters terrified and reeling.
"Why… why did he do that?" Dove gasped.
"Evil needs no reason," Raven said, "it just is."
Dove hid inside herself for many weeks afterward, scarcely noticing anything around her. It saddened Raven to see her so, but it did not surprise her. Dove had finally learned the truth of the world, a truth Raven had always known.
When spring came, Raven was able to coax Dove out into the garden again. The winter had been too bleak, Dove said, but she felt ready to enjoy the sun now that the storms had passed. Raven said nothing, she simply sat with her sister until Dove's happiness shone bright enough to wake the flowers beneath the earth.
Years passed, and there were no more wolves in the garden. Dove joined Raven more often when Raven invited her to play, but Raven asked less frequently. She was not as young or lively as she used to be, and on her good days, the family of squirrels she had befriended was ready to share the fun.
One windy afternoon, Raven fell. She and the squirrels had been chasing each other around the yard when she suddenly found herself down on the rocky ground, her leg twisted in agony beneath her.
Dove was by her side in an instant. "Can you move?" she asked.
"No. I can scarcely breathe." Raven's heart pounded in her chest, her fate already clear. She was too heavy for Dove to rescue her. She would be trapped here until some monster destroyed her in the dark.
Dove circled around her, thinking. Raven knew it was hopeless, but situations like this were the only times Dove's stubbornness showed itself.
After a moment, Dove began to sing.
Raven's squirrel friends came, for all the good it did her. They were too small to help, and could do nothing but chatter and worry. It made Raven's head spin.
Dove kept singing, her voice loud enough to reach the forest. "No!" Raven said. "It's dangerous—you don't know what might hear you!"
A rustling in the trees brought Raven's panic to the bursting point, and she thought she might faint when she saw the size of the beast coming toward them. It was a dog, one of the largest she had ever seen. "You have killed us both," she rasped, her voice nearly gone.
"Hush," Dove said, stepping forward to greet the dog.
Dove cooed and the dog whined, and then the dog sniffed the air and looked at Raven with impossibly sad eyes.
Raven turned away as it came closer, unwilling to watch death claim her. She felt its mouth on her and then she did faint, the sky fading to nothing as she fell prey to her doom.
She woke later, surrounded by darkness, and wondered if this was where the dead went when the end finally came. She was warm and yet her leg still hurt, not the sort of afterlife she might have expected. The sound of her name startled her, all the more because it was Dove who had spoken.
"You're safe," Dove said, and Raven peered harder at the gloom and realized it was true. They were nestled together in their home.
"How?" she asked.
"The dog saved you," Dove said. "He brought you here."
Raven thought back to the creature that had so frightened her, an animal she had never even met before. It didn't make sense. "But why?"
Dove leaned close to Raven, nuzzling her head as if they were still children. "Good needs no reason. It just is."
That was the truth of the world that Dove had always known. It had taken years, but now Raven finally knew it, too.
I am part of a team this week, where votes for the team as a whole matter! Please vote for any entries you enjoy from my Weird Sisters team, any other teams, and the standalone "Rivals" group. All stories are here...