Peer Review by AbigailSauble (United States)

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By: Nadia Kotova


    I almost hit Raven with my car when I pulled into the driveway. Slamming on the brakes and flinging gravel into the wet grass, I blared the horn at her. "Get out of the way, Raven!" I shouted. I let out a slow breath and willed the shaking to stop. No one would forgive me, especially not myself, if I killed Raven, the twin who was supposed to live, even on accident. 
    She stayed planted in front of my car. I honked at her again, but she didn't pull her eyes from me. Her arms wrapped around her stomach, Raven trembled. The look on her face reminded me of my older sister Sadie's the day Mom and Dad died and I knew instantly her face streamed with not only the rain. 
    Something clenched in my stomach. Numbness shot down my arms. 
    I threw myself from the car barely remembering to put it in park. "Is Lillian okay?" I grabbed her by the shoulders, raising my voice above the rain pinging on my Honda. 
    Raven shook her head, forcing out a, "I don't know."
    "What do you mean, you don't know? She lives in this house! With you!"
    "She's gone, Auryon."
    Avoiding dirty puddles pooled in the potholes dotting the gravel drive, I pulled her by the wrist onto our wrap-around porch. "Explain!" I yelled. The rain gained speed, sending steady thuds from the roof. 
    "I left our room for just a few minutes to get a cookie. And when I came back," her breath came in gasps, "Lillian had disappeared. I looked everywhere for her, Auryon. Everywhere in the house except upstairs. She can't climb the steps anymore."
    I fled into the house without removing my muddy shoes. "Lillian!" 
    She wasn't in her room, just as Raven had said. I stared, heaving, at the happy yellow walls and flowered quilt that so mocked the misery she suffered in that bed. But Lillian had wanted bright colors. And ever since the day the doctors said they didn't know what disease was killing her and they couldn't do anything to fix it, Lillian got what she wanted. 
    I turned and pounded up the stairs in the entry way. "Sam!" 
    He cracked open his bedroom door, looking irritable. "I'm working, Auryon." His eyes drifted to my dripping hair, then to the mud my shoes tracked on the carpet. "Why do you insist leaving the house in disarray?" 
    "We can't find Lillian," I said. 
    He wordlessly pushed past me. 
    "Raven already checked downstairs, Sam. And she can't be up here."
    "Check upstairs anyway!" He shouted, fleeing into Sadie's room.
    I opened the door to my bedroom, calling Lillian's name in vain. She never left her room without telling anyone. The past couple of days, she hadn't been able to walk without help either. 
    Normally, she sat at her window to watch the rain. She talked about it too, with wishy-washy words that sounded like wistful poetry. 
    Once, when she was four, right after the doctors started treatment for some misdiagnosed disease, it had rained like this. Pouring in sheets intermixed with violent claps of thunder. Lillian disappeared, just like now. Sadie had found her lying in a puddle because for whatever reason the rain made the pain more tolerable. 
    I froze at the top of the stairs. 
    Sadie had found her lying in a puddle because for whatever reason the rain made the pain more tolerable. 
    "Sam! Raven!" I flew down the stairs. "She's outside." 
    "In the rain?" Sam said skeptically. 
    "In the rain," Raven said. 
    Raven burst into the rain with frightened abandon, yelling Lillian's name. The horrible desperation in her voice as she sped towards the tank made me sick. 
    "You stay in the house," I instructed Sam. "In case she comes back."
    I headed in the opposite direction, towards the barn, though I knew Lillian hated it there. She liked animals when she could watch them from her window, especially birds. We nicknamed her little canary because she sang all the time. 
    Lillian was happier than anyone I knew even though she was dying. 
    I'd barely slopped inside the rickety old barn before Raven shrieked my name. The water in my socks squelched as I turned, trying to pinpoint her voice. I ran into the middle of the yard, unable to see then through the pouring rain. 
    Where would Lillian go?
An idea struck me and I took off in the direction of the tank, where a grove of oak trees lived. The twins played Pocahontas there when Lillian felt well enough. 
    The trees grew close together, creating shelter from the storm. Drips of water sprinkled of the leaves. I could smell the wet earth. Moisture in the air thickened there, making it hard to breathe. "Lillian?" I called out. 
    "Over here," Raven said, her tone strained. 
    Lillian rested against a tree surrounded by a puddle, peaceful expression on her face. 
    "Hi, Auryon," Her weak voice betrayed the pain infested in her. 
    Raven clutched her twin's wrist. Lillian smiled at her, then grimaced as cramps attacked. "Auryon, tell her she's not going to die today," pleaded Raven, staring at Lillian, her eyes looking like shattered glass. 
    "I am dying," Lillian stated like one might say I'm going to take a nap. 
"Why are you not afraid?" Raven asked. 
    "No reason to be." She flinched with another bout of pain. "There is only joy after death for me. I'm tired of the pain."
    Raven pulled her close. "Why out here? Why not warm in your bed with Sam and Sadie around?"
    A broken glance was shot at me, but I felt helpless watching the life seep slowly from Lillian's body. 
    "The rain is my favorite place," Lillian held out her hands to catch water droplets dripping from the leaves. "You've always know that, Raven." The rain picked up and Lillian lay down in the mud. 
    "Lillian, no!" Raven wailed, tears painting her face. 
    I could see the life in Lillian's eyes fade with every second beating by. She held Raven's hand tight. 
    "No more pain, Raven. No more pain."
    Her hand went limp in Raven's grasp and fell to rest in a little puddle of rain that had always meant so much to her. 

Message to Readers

Tell me what you think! I want a better ending, so any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Peer Review

"No more pain, Raven. No more pain." - For one thing, this is true about heaven. But it's sad, too. I got goosebumps when I read this.

Sadness . . . I grew to love Lillian. And the care that her siblings show is so sweet. You present strong emotions, and great details so that I got pulled right into the story. I wasn't even really lost for any previous detail.

Do you like the rain? How do you choose the names?

Reviewer Comments

I love the names that you use in this. :) You also have a powerful way of showing emotions.