I was depressed. It wasn’t like there was any reason. But did I really need to have a reason? I was so sick of people asking me, “What’s wrong?” As if it could be pinpointed to a single thing.
Sometimes you’re just depressed. Life is “what’s wrong” and there’s nothing more to it.
My mom was one of these nameless people asking me “what’s wrong?” So I screamed nothing and I ran away. As if I had the balls to actually run away.
I only made it to a pond across the street. It was more puddle than pond, and the trees were already deadened by winter—these black barren things. What was wrong was how damned depressing everything was.
I was sitting on a park bench hating the tears that slid down my cheeks, when I heard a deep squawk. A big black raven landed on the barren tree in front of me. The tree branch bowed under the weight of the massive bird.
I loved Edgar Allen Poe’s Poem “The Raven“, but that was all I knew about the bird. I’d never seen one in person, and was surprised by how big it was. It was almost as big as a cat.
It cocked its head at me, tilting to the side, its beautiful blue black feathers catching moonlight and shining like the dark waters of the pond. The raven seemed to look right into my eyes with its black-pearl eyes.
“Nevermore,” I whispered to myself and grinned. I realized the tears on my cheeks were dried.
The raven stayed with me through the night, sitting on the tree branch, watching over me like a gargoyle.
I told the raven about my mom, and how the boys at school were stupid, and how my best friend was a jerk, and blahblahblah–which I supposed all the raven heard was the blahblahblah.
The next night, I ran to the pond, and to my surprise the raven was sitting on the same tree branch.
I lay on the park bench, told the raven about my day, and fell asleep talking to the raven.
“Hey, you okay?” Someone asked, stirring me from my sleep.
I opened by eyes and saw a guy kneeling in front of me, he had blue black hair that hung in front of his black eyes. He had two shiny black lip rings across his thick lips, and another in his septum.
“Yeah,” I whispered and sat up. “I guess I fell asleep.”
He wore a tight black shirt, tight black pants, with black combat boots. He looked like he was probably sixteen, like me.
“A strange place to sleep,” he said.
“I suppose.” I noticed that the raven was gone and grimaced. I didn’t really want to be around anyone, no matter how attractive they might be.
I stood up and started to walk away.
“Going already?” He asked.
I turned to him and snapped, “Yeah, so what?”
“Sorry I—” He scratched the back of his head.
“No, I’m sorry.”
I felt an odd tug, like I didn’t want to leave. I looked at the waters of the pond, and he turned to the pond, watching the moonlight reflect onto it with me.
“What’s your name?” He asked.
“Raven,” he said.
“Cool name,” I said, and when I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t help but see the similarity to the black pearl eyes of the raven. But surely not. I mean, it was impossible for boys to turn into birds, right?
We talked about nothing really, but it was nice. I did like talking to the raven, but having someone respond was nice for a change.
I smiled as I walked back to my house.
I walked to the pond, hoping to see the raven and Raven. When I reached the pond, I saw Raven sitting on the park bench. I smiled as I approached him.
“Hey.” He was twisting a black raven feather in his hand. He held it out to me and said, “Here.”
I took it from him and whispered, “Nevermore.”
“Evermore,” he said.
“It’s ‘nevermore’, you know—Poe’s poem?”
“I know, but why not ‘evermore’ instead?” He cocked his head to the side, and it reminded me of how the raven had looked at me. “Kyra, I’d rather see you evermore.”
I opened my mouth to ask him something, something insane, but I shook my head. I mean was I really going to ask this (very attractive) boy “Hey, can you turn into a bird?” That’s how you get boys to run away from you. Well, or or fly if I was right…
It was clear that Raven wasn’t like the boys at my school.
“Do you think there are things like…shape-shifters?” I asked him. “People that can turn into animals?”
“Don’t laugh! I’m serious.”
His smile fell into a straight line. “Do you think they exist?”
“I don’t know. I mean, kind of.”
“I kind of do too,” he said.
“I’d like to hope magic like that exists.”
We didn’t say anything after that.
I had placed my hand on my lap, palm facing up, and he held my hand, interlacing his fingers with mine. I fell asleep like that, and when I woke up, Raven was gone, but the raven was sitting on the tree branch.
I smiled and said, “Hello again.”
The raven squawked.
Weeks passed by, and I either saw Raven or the raven when I visited the pond. I was no longer running away. After all, there wasn’t anything wrong anymore.
“I want to show you something,” Raven told me. “Do you promise that you won’t run away?”
I laughed. “What are you a serial killer or something?”
I felt a chill dance across my body. I didn’t really know Raven, and that realization sunk in. I wondered if I had been too trusting. But something, maybe stupidity, made me stay.
Maybe I should have ran, but I said, “Yeah, okay. What is it?”
He flashed a wicked grin and then he titled his head back. I stepped away from him as his body convulsed. His skin rippled over cracking bones. Suddenly it was no longer Raven, but the raven sitting in front of me.
I should have been more shocked, but I wasn’t. I smiled and I bent down to pet his soft feathers. He cocked his head at me, and then as soon as he was a bird, he was back as a boy.
“Wow,” I whispered.
“I understand if you want to run away, forget about me,” he said. “I know I’m a freak.”
“No!” I quickly said. “I…I like you as Raven and the raven.”
“Really,” I told him. “I like you for evermore.”
(Raven by: Nebraska Oddfish)
Here’s a short story based off of my novel, Dagger.
She Slept in Fire
She looked like she was sleeping. In fact I thought that was the case, until after several times she never woke up. That and she didn’t have a pulse.
I’d never seen a dead body. It was surreal. But as much as it made me uncomfortable, I couldn’t move.
The syringe stuck out of her arm like an unwelcome reminder of what happened. I just stared at the syringe until my brother yelled my name, “Dagger!”
I didn’t even register he was yelling my name until he walked over to me and started to shake me.
It was then that I realized I had been standing there for an hour.
“Dag, she overdosed,” Coal said, as if I didn’t know. But part of me didn’t want to know. Part of me wanted to think she was asleep.
Coal, always trying to keep it together, hugged me against him. Ever the protective brother.
“We gotta get out of here,” he said. “If they find us, alone like this, they’ll send us to foster care. I’m not doing it.”
He gathered up mom’s jewelry and a big fat stack of cash that was in her purse and put it in a walmart bag.
“Grab anything from your room that you want,” he said.
I grabbed my backpack and a few things and put the backpack on.
When I went into the room he had picked up a lighter from the nightstand, that was cozy next to an ash tray, and had it held it above mom.
“What are you doing?” I asked, my heart racing.
“Get out,” he said, his brows furrowed and I felt determination emanating from him.
“No,” I said and tried to get the lighter from his grasp.
“You’re scaring me.”
“You should be,” he said. “Leave. I don’t want you to see this.”
But I wouldn’t move.
Everything after that was a blur. I don’t even remember him flicking the lighter, I just remember fire. First a small fire on the sheets, and then it spread like blood splattering.
And then my hand was in Coal’s and he pulled me out of the room and we ran down the stairs. The apartment was quiet, no one knew what was happening in our apartment right now.
Mom was sleeping in the fire.
Author’s Notes: So this is the messed up backstory behind my characters Dagger and Coal. In this story Dagger is 14 and Coal is 16. Why Coal did this will be explored in another short story. For now I will leave that as a mystery.
For the record NO Coal did not kill his mom, even though it might look that way? I guess we’ll see what people think!
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it!
Image by: SimpleInsomnia