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Norah

United States

Defined by poetry. Lives by prose. Just a girl on the path to becoming a writer.

Message to Readers

Hi. I'd love some grammatical help with this piece. Does it have any typos? Does the story flow?

Mother's Tale

June 7, 2015

It was dark. It was darker than dark. It was pitch.


    Then the light lit between my mother's fingers. The match flared, reflecting off her obsidian eyes. Mother watched the flame, a smile playing at her lips. I could never know what she was thinking in these moments, in the silences that came before words. These negative spaces that filled our empty hearts.


    In the cavern we all sat, breathless, as she held the fire up, up until we could see the tips of the dripping stalagmites clinging to the cave's ceiling far above.


    And so she began, as she did every time the village was raided, speaking in a hushed voice. Her words a song.


    "Children," she murmured, "remember the old days."


    She hung the newly lit match in the air, suspending it with her magic. It flickered minutely, perfectly balanced in the thick darkness of the cave. The gravelly sound of a match being lit burned the air. Mother held up another flame and set it by the first. She repeated the action until we were surrounded by a circle of flickering fire. Warm light settled across Mother's features, bathing them in a soft glow. It was then that the story came tumbling out of her chest like some great river. It came to life off of her tongue and from the depths of her being. We listened, awed.


    "Remember when magic still ruled the earth, and dragons were the crown of heaven." Her voice was mellow and smooth. Outside our ring of matches, the adults of the village grew closer, searching for my mother's voice, just a whisper among silence.


    "And a dragon ruled this land, for where we stand is a powerful place, laced with magic." She smiled down at us. She was lovely, my mother, with downy hair like that of a baby raven, and eyes that could pierce your soul. This story always turned her eyes sad, and lonely, she was the only one with her gift in our village, perhaps the whole world. The rivers of magic were coming close to running dry.


    "Our ancestors were foolish, however, and although dragons are peaceful creatures, they believed this dragon wanted to devour them." Mother paused. "And so," she continued, "they vowed to kill the dragon, and rid the beast from their land."


    The girl ran, raced through the forest, leaves and branches stinging her bare arms and cheeks. Her eyes were streaked with unwanted tears, her face red and defiant. She put her hand to her waist every other moment, securing the knife dangling from her belt. Her eyes were wild.
She stopped, then heard again what had made her flee. A roar, a bellow, and splitting of the air and earth came rumbling across the mountains.


    "The dragon folk were quite peaceful," Mother said mournfully, "peaceful, that is, until provoked." We looked at her apprehensively. "The maiden, sent out to kill the dragon with her magic, hid in a well, frightened and disgusted by the beast chasing her through the forest and determined to kill it.


    The girl sat very still at the bottom of the well. It had never seen much use, it was damp from the last rain and coated with moss. The thundering roar of the dragon grew closer. The girl's heart turned and twisted sporadically. Her hand hovered above her knife, eyes flitted from place to place. She was trapped, trapped by her own fear. All she could do was wait.


    "It was then that the dragon looked down the well with its terrible red eye, and spotted the maiden. The young girl knew the only thing left to do was fight. And fight she did."


    The girl flung the dagger straight into the pupil of the dragon, straight into the endless depths of knowledge and power help in its gaze, and sent the dragon howling. A thick viscous mist poured from the dragon's eye, the bright scales shimmered as he bucked and bowed, driven mad in rage. The girl took her chance and scrambled up the side of the well.


    "The maiden reached into her vast supply of magic and tore the beast's heart in two." Mother said quietly. "The last she saw of the dragon was its spirit drifting away in the wind."


    The girl was shattered. Her magic was powerful, too powerful. She had committed a terrible act.  The fluttering scrap of mist, a shimmering bit of air, flew away on a breeze. Like a glowing ash, swept up from a fire. The girl fought her urge to cry. Her heart screeched, her heart was the one being split in half. Her mind was the one driven mad by a knife wound. The girl sobbed, because life would go on without the magnificent creature now lying on the ground, and she had been the one to kill it. She lay in a pool of the dragon's crimson blood and screamed for the unfairness in life and the unjust endings the people of the world must face. She cried herself to sleep in the embrace of a dead dragon.


    "And the maiden returned the next day, soaked with blood and sore. Some say she died of grief. Some say she was reborn as a dragon the following day. We will never know." Mother knew. Mother knew most everything, but we didn't ask.


    "Now, children, sleep," she murmured. And we did.


    The next day we stumbled out of the hiding cave. There was a boat coasting out on the smooth bay, white froth turning up behind it. The clouds were bird feathers, painted against a faded blue, a pale watercolor ribbon, stretched across the ribbing of the earth. We watched the sun rise higher in the heavens, then slowly made our way back to the village, scared of what we might find. The night raiders were gone. Leaving behind them the remains of our village.
   

We slept on ash that night, looking up to the stars for comfort.


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2 Comments
  • Norah

    Thanks so much! That means so much to me!


    about 2 years ago
  • Grace Mary Potts

    This is stunning, absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing this story! I shall cherish it.


    about 2 years ago