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05 February 2016 @ 11:07 am
LJ Idol Friends & Rivals: "Dove and Raven"  
Dove and Raven
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...

adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on February 5th, 2016 10:57 pm (UTC)
This is very sweet! Nice take on the prompt!

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2016 06:59 am (UTC)
Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
passing_throughpassing_through on February 6th, 2016 03:41 am (UTC)
That was beautiful.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2016 07:00 am (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks for taking the time to read it. :)
Teo Sayseternal_ot on February 6th, 2016 11:27 am (UTC)
This is a beautiful fable..someday I'll read it out to my kid/s( when I have them i.e)..:) Loved it! Good work!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on February 6th, 2016 02:48 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I love the way you put the portrayal of these lessons, that first Raven teaches Dove of good but then Dove teaches Raven of good, beautiful. I also love your depictions of them, how their names have been the making of them, and the way they are together despite their differences and you make it make sense.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2016 07:56 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you caught all that. I worked to obscure whether Dove and Raven were human, bird, or some kind of spirit/animal combination, as I thought that would be much more interesting than any straightforward version of any one of those.

Like yin and yang, they form a completeness together, and like siblings who are very different, there is still the bond of love that is more important than the details of their personal "styles."
bleodsweanbleodswean on February 6th, 2016 04:00 pm (UTC)
Great work with this challenging allegory and morality tale! You really hooked my attention and the payoff was so worthwhile!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2016 07:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! The idea of these two characters, sisters but polar opposites, really, just intrigued me so much. Neither is completely right about the world, and neither completely wrong, but between the two of them know it, they complement each other more than thwart each other.
blahblahblah, whateverkathrynrose on February 6th, 2016 08:23 pm (UTC)
love love loved this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2016 07:56 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
alycewilsonalycewilson on February 6th, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful ending! Loved this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2016 07:57 am (UTC)
It's funny how things like that solidify during the writing process. When that idea came to me, I knew it needed to be how this would end, a full-circle balance between the two sisters and their view of the world.
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on February 7th, 2016 04:43 am (UTC)
this is so sweet! i love the ending. and i love all the differences between the sisters, and how some of your phrasing treats them as if they were actual birds. raven squawks, dove coos.

i thought the wolf who came into the garden might have been a metaphor and he was an actual person, and he was described as a wolf the way the sisters were sometimes described in birdy terms, but it works either way. but i like the possible ambiguity.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2016 08:01 am (UTC)
:D That means you caught that the characters could be human, or animal, or even "other." I wanted the sisters to embody their bird pesonalities, but with nothing that would definitively say whether they were actual birds or not.

And yes, that wolf was an allegory. He could have literally been a wolf or a wolf-like character.

I'm glad you liked the ambiguity, and even moreso that you noticed it! \o/
rayasorayaso on February 7th, 2016 03:23 pm (UTC)
What a truly wonderful story! I loved the gentle language and the allegory/fable. It was a great ending. In particular, I loved "Dove could make bees sing, and Raven could pull thunder and lightning down from the sky." You have such a talent for turning phrases!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2016 09:00 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the finished result!

That line you mentioned as added in the early block you'd seen, because it helped hint that Dove and Raven might be spiritual archetypes instead of just merely people or animals. Because ambiguity between two things is not enough. I wanted a solid three. :)
inteus_mika: Teary-Eyedinteus_mika on February 7th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
A beautiful fable, worthy of spoken word, passed down through generations, until commonly known throughout the world.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 8th, 2016 06:54 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it, and felt that was good enough to be passed along. That is high praise.
whipchickwhipchick on February 8th, 2016 01:49 pm (UTC)
I like how I can't tell if they are human, god, animal or spirit, and how this feels like a myth belonging to a world I don't know yet. And the message is heartening :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 8th, 2016 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you caught all of those possibilities. :D In the final edits, I worked to make the language lend itself (or not) to all of those possibilities, so that you could never be sure which it was-- all seemed equally true.

There's a yin/yang aspect to this story too, and the message to me completes the "circle" of this story and universe, if that makes sense. :)
Lenileni_ba on February 8th, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, how lovely! The ending actually brought tears to my eyes, because it's a truth we rarely acknowledge. :) tks!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 8th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I agree-- the good is there, but we are not as ready to notice it as to see the bad. Better still is doing our best to BE the good, or bring the good of a situation to someone else. ♥
dmousey: pic#125576541dmousey on February 8th, 2016 04:22 pm (UTC)
Oh!!! I loved this! It's a fable after my own heart! This could easily be a children's book. Thank you for sharing! Peace~~~D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 8th, 2016 06:20 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and your own stories tell me that Dove's world is more the one you live in and try to expand for others. It's always inspirin to me. :)
dee_aar2dee_aar2 on February 8th, 2016 08:01 pm (UTC)
I love the names you chose and how they just portray the two contrasts so easily. The prose is quite beautiful and loved that you chose a feel good ending. It could have gone either way ... I kind of suspected it might ...

I love the message that in relationships especially sibling ... we all might just after all be two sides of the same coin.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 9th, 2016 12:53 am (UTC)
The world is not complete without all of us, even our imperfections! I'm so glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)
prog_schlockprog_schlock on February 8th, 2016 08:15 pm (UTC)
What a lovely parable! What I love about the ending is that it doesn't negate either statement about the nature of good and evil - and that inherent conflict is part of what makes the world so fascinating and complicated. I love also that Dove and Raven both represent more of an understanding of different natures than those different natures themselves, if that makes sense.

This made me think of this song for many reasons, but the main two are the obvious title connection and the dark bridge, which contrasts with the hopeful verses:

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 9th, 2016 07:00 am (UTC)
it doesn't negate either statement about the nature of good and evil
Yes-- either or both could be true, and they are.

I really liked that song. I hadn't heard of the group before, and while the religious sentiment isn't mine, the tune is neat and the message of being on your best behavior just because is a good one. :)
(no subject) - prog_schlock on February 9th, 2016 08:18 am (UTC) (Expand)