Children of the Sky

by Rylie Spencer

Preface

I just randomly decided to write this one day. I spent a long time on it, though! Hope you enjoy!


"Our radar sensors have picked up a rare one," said Raven's mother.

"What is it?"

"A boy. I can't be certain, but I think he might be...what we need most."

"Good," said Raven, ignoring her mother's look of pain.

1

The girl came the day after school let out. Every Thursday, I would see her walk down Leigh Street- a dead end. Then she disappeared into the trees that continued. The kids in my neighborhood came up with all sorts of rumors about her, from a bit far-fetched, such as, "she lives in the abandoned cottage in the forest", to the outrageous, "she's a tree nymph."I never believed any of them. She was a mystery.

2

It was a hot summer day, nearly 90 degrees outside, but I was drawn to the outdoors. I always have been. Besides, it was a Thursday. Something about the girl intrigued me- I watched her walk every Thursday. That day, I was looking for more, though-for answers. I was bored, and I couldn't put it off any longer, or I would burn away with curiosity. So, that day, I followed her.

3

She never even looked my way. I'm not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed. I followed her through the woods, not making a sound. Without even glancing behind her, she said calmly, "Hello, Oscar." How did she know I was there? No...how did she know my name?

I ran.

4

The next week, I set off after her again. "Hello, Oscar."

This time, I stayed.

5

And she sang. One note, pure and clear and held out longer than any human should be able to. Then the birds came.

They flocked to her, flitting and soaring and perching around her until I could see no hint of her pale skin, no trace of her jet-black hair. There were hundreds of them, it was unbelievable. I stood there for at least ten minutes, staring in awe. That girl wasn't normal.

When I finally turned to leave, she said something that I couldn't hear under the cawing of the birds. "What?" I asked. "Raven," she said, her voice barely audible. "My name is Raven."

6

"Raven," I whispered, all the way home. It was perfect. "Raven, Raven, Raven."

"He followed me," Raven told her mother. "He followed me into the forest. And I showed him the birds."

Her mother was silent for a moment. "Then tell him," she said.

7

I stopped bothering with sneaking. She knew I was there. But I was still careful to tread lightly. A small crunch of leaves, or a crack of a stick, would ruin the magic.

8

She stopped and sat on a log, then turned to me and motioned for me to sit down too. It was the first time I had seen her eyes. They were a piercing blue, the color of the sky. "Remember the birds, Oscar?" she said softly. Of course I did. How could I forget?

"Why are your eyes like they are?" she asked suddenly.

I was surprised she hadn't asked me already. Usually it was the first thing everybody asked me. Why was my right eye blue with gold flecks and my left eye black with gold flecks? I sighed and recited what I had committed to memory years ago.

"It's a condition called caeloculor syndrome, or sky-eyes. Only a few people have ever had it- Clara Rothingsford, Samuel Night, Natalie Stone, Griffin Scottsburg, Katherine Wooding, and..." I struggled to remember, "...and Itri Kim."

She winced after that last name. " Yes, but why is it caused?"

" Nobody knows, but it may be a mutated or mixed eye gene-"

She cut me off, shaking her head. "No. Haven't you ever wished that it would cool down in the hot summer days, and the next minute it actually has?"

"Once," I said, remembering. "But that was a long time ago. It was a coincidence!"

She told me to try it now, so I did. Nothing happened.

"Come on, you have to actually mean it!" she said impatiently. "You have to-" she struggled for a word- "command the sun to beat down less harshly. So I did. It got colder, and colder, and colder, and colder...

"Stop!" she said, shaking. Her face was white, and was that...fear in her eyes?

I attempted to raise the temperature, and brought it up to about 75 degrees. She stared at me for a long time. Finally she said, "Tomorrow night. Here. 11:45." I nodded. This should be interesting.

9

11:45. I was there for twenty minutes alone, before I decided she wasn't going to come. As I turned to leave, she slipped through the trees into the clearing. "Hello, Oscar," she said, as usual. I was angry. "You're late! I waited twenty minutes in the dark!"

"I wanted to see how long you would wait. If you trusted me."

"Well, I guess I do," I said in an irritated voice. But I really did. There was something about her that made me want to stay, that made me wish for her to come.

She reached for my hand and I took it, sending a tingle up my arm. She led me through the woods to a grassy field. You could see the stars perfectly.

She let go of my hand and lay down on the ground. I followed her example, staring at the sky. "No moon," I murmured.

"I know. It's a new moon. That's why I brought you here today. We don't need the moon-just the stars."

A million questions ran through my mind. Finally, I asked, "What are we doing?"

"Remember what you did with the temperature? You were playing with the sun. Now you're going to play with the stars."

10

We looked at the constellations-Orion, Big Dipper... I didn't know the rest. "The Big Dipper," she said.

"What about it?" I asked.

"Make the stars in it look like...an ice cream cone."

"Why would I do that? How would I do that?"

"Just...imagine it. And believe it's real. Tell them to move, like-like you did with the temperature."

It was ridiculous, but somehow I believed her. Why not give it a try?

Ice cream. I closed my eyes and thought of ice cream. When I looked up, it was still the Big Dipper. My heart sank, but then I scolded myself. Had I really thought I could do that? I knew the answer. Yes.

11

I met her almost every day and every night after that, and I treasured each magical, wonderful time. She tried to teach me how to rearrange the sky, but she never showed me the birds again. I was positive that she could do...I didn't know what, but something- with the birds, like I was supposed to be able change the stars. Then one day, she sat down and said, "No stars for you today."

I was a bit disappointed, but not too much-it's not like I had been able to do anything with them before. "Why not?" I asked.

"Today..." she took a deep breath, "...today is for explanations." I sat up quickly.

"Explanations? Really?" She nodded, giving a slight smile at my expression.

"Explanations," she said, then she was quiet. I was dying to tell her to get on with it, but then she wouldn't tell me anything at all.

Finally, she began.

12

"The sun," she said, twirling her finger around in a way that mesmerized me, hypnotizing me...

The sun. In the beginning, that was all there was. The sun and the stars.

The first caveman looked upon them, the same way we do now. And he looked upon everything in the world, and he thought. And he thought.

And then he filed his thought away and raised a family. But before he died, he told his son the thought.

"What was the thought?" I interrupted. She shook her head.

"Do you want me to continue?" I nodded vigorously.

And so the son thought. And he thought. And he passed the thought down to his son, who thought and thought. And so it went, for years and years. Until one day, a girl named Clara Rothingsford knew what to do with that thought.

"Clara Rothingsford? She was the first one with sky-eyes!" She smiled.

"Exactly. Now it's getting late, so we should leave."

"But- wait..."

"I'll still be here tomorrow," she said. "I'm not going anywhere."

13

I was dying of suspense. What did Clara do? And what does a mutated eye gene have to do with any of this? Yet somehow I got the feeling that the doctors were wrong, that it was more than just a mutated gene.

14

The next night, I snuck out to the old log that we usually met at. She wasn't there. I figured she was just late, but after forty-five minutes, she still didn't show up. I should...probably...leave... I didn't want to spend all night here. I'll just...wait a little...longer.

15

I sat up and rubbed my eyes, looking around. Leaves...trees...wait a second, where was I? Then it all came flooding back. I gritted my teeth. Raven had stood me up. I sighed and got to my feet. Better get home.

16

I knocked on the front door, then immediately regretted it.

Once my mother stopped yelling at me, she sent me to my room and grounded me. Thanks a lot, Raven. Why didn't she come last night? I was infuriated...but somehow I felt like she wouldn't have done that. Like something was wrong.

17

As I flopped onto my bed, I spotted a sticky note on my pillow. I pulled it off and read:

Sorry. My house. 472 Thrasher street. Be there. Quickly. Not much time. From,

There was a simple sketch of a bird.

The note intrigued me, but also made me more irritated. If she had been able to leave me a note, she should have been able to meet me last night. One thing was for sure- I would be there.

18

And then I remembered: I was grounded. But I had to come, I had to! Time to try my first idea.

19

"Please, Mom," I rehearsed in front of the mirror. "Growing boys need fresh air. Besides, I was just being impulsive- I'm a silly immature person, and I regret my faults. Now can I please, pretty please, go outside?" I took a deep breath and walked down the stairs, into the kitchen, putting on my best casual look.

"Hey Mom," I started, "can-"

"No,"she interrupted.

"But-"

"No. No trying to slip away from your punishment. You're staying inside."

I groaned. Were moms psychic?

20

Time for Plan B. I walked over to the door and began to quietly turn the handle. I almost managed to open the door when my mother swooped in beside me. "Nope," she said. "You're not getting away that easily."

Wow. They really do have psychic powers- at least mine does.

21

I trudged upstairs. Time for Plan C- the ridiculous one. I opened my window and peered out. It was roof for a few feet, then dropped. I took a deep breath and stepped carefully out onto the shingles. I closed the window and looked down. Maybe I shouldn't have done that.

I gulped and inched out towards the side. I lowered myself onto the windowsill below me. I teetered but caught myself- for a second. Then I tumbled down to the ground, landing on my ankle.

22

A fierce pain shot up my leg and made my vision wobble out of focus. I attempted to put weight on it, then winced. My ankle was definitely sprained, if not broken. I crawled out of the yard. What now?

23

Personally, I think I had quite a genius moment. I managed to stand up on my left foot and hop over to a pile of large sticks. I chose two of the sturdiest and they became my crutches. I hobbled onto the sidewalk and slowly but surely, made my way towards Thrasher Street.

24

I was getting better and better at these crutches. I turned the corner of Thrasher street. 480...479...478...477...476...475...474...473... And there it was. 472 Thrasher Street. The house was...normal. I don't know what I was expecting, but I didn't think that a girl like Raven would live in a home just like mine, just like everyone's. This was it. I strode (or hopped) up to the door and knocked.

25

A woman with pale skin and blue eyes answered the door. She looked just like Raven, but her hair was golden brown and hung limp off of her head like dried grass.

Her voice was the same too- when she calmly said, "Hello, Oscar," she sounded so much like Raven that I nearly jumped.

"Um...yeah? I mean-that's me?"

She smiled tiredly at me. "Come in."

26

I hesitantly limped into the house. She led me into the living room and motioned for me to sit on the couch. So I did.

"Where's Raven?" I asked.

"Ah," she said, wincing. "Well."

"Where is she?!" I demanded.

She lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry, Oscar, but...she was kidnapped."

"She was kidnapped?"

27

"How much explaining has she done?" she asked me.

"She told me that this caveman had a thought, and then Clara Rothingsford knew what to do with the thought."

"So....not much."

I shook my head silently.

She sighed. "Okay. I am Raven's mother, but just call me Ahihia. Basically, Clara figured out how to control the sun and stars, and she began to develop a strange condition in her eyes."

"They looked like the sky," I breathed.

"Yes. She passed this ability- and these eyes- down to a few of her descendants."

Suddenly, I understood. "Like me. I can control the temperature. I can control the sun."

"Yes. Others learned from Clara, and managed to control other things in life. Everything on this planet and off of it is being or has been at some point controlled by a human. I can control grass.

"And Raven- she controls birds?"

"Yes. We call ourselves the Kontrolli. We have formed a society for ourselves, with a council. Whenever a sky-eye, a Kontrolli who controls the sun and stars, comes along, they are immediately placed in charge of the entire council. Normally this is fine, but the current head is Itri Kim, a Kontrolli who abuses his powers. He uses them for evil deeds, and is throwing our society into ruin. But the rules state that only another sky-eye can challenge and overthrow him."

She looked expectantly at me.

There was a sickening feeling in my stomach. "So....you want me, an undertrained twelve year old boy with a sprained ankle to fight a powerful man that probably has many, many guards at his disposal."

"Yes."

"How will I- I can't-"

"Oscar, I know it seems ridiculous, but you have something he doesn't.

28

"You, Oscar, have the sun."

I blinked. "Yeah, but so does he."

She shook her head. "Let me tell you a story, Oscar."

She began to talk in a soothing voice, and I closed my eyes, her words washing over me.

Once there was a young woman named Ahihia. She met a young man named Itri Kim, and they got married and had a little girl together. They named her Raven.

Itri was a good man. He could control the sun and all other stars, but after a while, once he had seemingly mastered the use of the sun, he turned his attention to the stars. He spent all of his time during the night, researching and practicing, until he had so completely mastered the use of stars that he had lost control over the sun. He tried as hard as he could, but he never was able to make the sun move an inch or be raised a single degree. So he began to scorn the sun, and all that was light and good. He became hateful and vicious, and proceeded to destroy Kontrolli who opposed him.

Ahihia ran away with Raven, who was still a young child, to get away from he man who was no longer Itri Kim. They hid from him as long as they could, but he kept searching.

Years later, Raven met a boy named Oscar. He was so much like young Itri that it hurt Ahihia to see him. But she had to talk to him, when Itri kidnapped Raven, and they had to stop his reign once and for all.

29

I opened my eyes drowsily. "Is that why I can only use the sun, not the stars? Because Itri claimed the stars and left the sun?"

"Yes. There is only supposed to be one sky-eye at a time, so you are sharing your powers. Raven tried to teach you to control the stars out of desperation, but...you can't. Not yet."

"And one more thing....you said that it hurt Ahihia to see me. Hurt you to see me. Because I'm like Itri."

She closed her eyes. "Yes. Remember, I was in love with him once, before he changed. Now, meeting someone so much like him....it hurts."

"I understand. I'm....sorry."

She placed a hand on my shoulder. "Do not be sorry. You are going to be what Itri could have been if he had not turned. You are going to be great, Oscar. Remember that."

With a smile and a flick of her wrist, the ground began to rumble. Grass poked out from the dirt and shot up, enveloping us in green. Suddenly, I felt us shooting through the air.

30

My insides turned around and around. We were finally spit out at a strange building. I fell to the ground, clutching my stomach, and looked around. I didn't see Ahihia anywhere. "Ahihia?" I called nervously. There was no response. Slowly, I got to my feet, or foot at least, and hobbled towards the building. A sign on the front read, "KONTROLLI COUNCIL HEADQUARTERS". I gulped. The council. This was where Itri worked. I would have to battle him soon, I knew. I also knew that I was not at all prepared. Yes, I could change the temperature, but what good would that do in battle? I took a step back. No. I couldn't do this. Then I remembered Raven. Stuck in there. I couldn't just leave her there.

I took a deep breath and swung open the door. "Oh, Itri!" I shouted. "Your fellow sky-eye is here! Come and get me!"

31

On the far side of the hallway, a door was pushed open. I saw a man stride out, walking towards me. As he got closer, I could make out his features. He had dark hair and a round face. He looked...normal. If it hadn't been for that cold smile and those telltale sky-eyes, I never would have known it was Itri.

His mouth curled up in disgust.

"Wrong strategy, boy. Never announce your entry into battle."

He spoke with a thick accent I couldn't quite place. I stood up taller.

"Well, maybe I'm just not a coward," I said. In fact, I was terrified, but Itri didn't need to know that.

His eyes flickered dangerously.

"Are you calling me a coward?"

"Why, yes. Yes, I am."

He studied me for a few seconds, as though he didn't know what to make of me.

"You're either very brave or very foolish. Either way, it isn't going to turn out well for you. Come, boy. Unless you are a coward like me?"

I sucked in a breath.

"Of course not," I said. "Lead the way, coward."

32

He led me through a dark corridor to a large antique door. He pushed it open and it swung away, revealing the outside world. He stepped out and I followed behind.

"Now, are you prepared to die?" he asked in an alarmingly calm tone of voice.

"Of course not. I'm prepared to fight, though. After all, I'm not-"

"A coward. I know, boy. Perhaps I can..." he smiled maliciously, "...change that."

I tensed, ready for whatever was going to happen.

Suddenly, I had the sense that someone was watching me. I looked behind me and saw twenty more men and women, prepared for battle. A sickening feeling ran through me. Now he outnumbered me, as if being much more experienced and powerful wasn't enough.

"Coward," I muttered. He really was- and it wasn't going to work out well for me.

33

Itri smiled again.

"Now...shall we?"

"We shall," I said, forcing a grin. It didn't come easily. What was I doing?

34

"Then let us begin, " he said.

I nodded. Closing my eyes, I brought my hands up over my shoulders, willing the sun to beat down less. Maybe I could freeze him?

I kept going and going, until it was nearly zero degrees. He just stood there, smirking.

"Boy, I am of the night. You have no idea how much cold I can withstand."

I sighed and brought the heat back up, up and up, until it was over one hundred degrees. If he was of the night and the cold, maybe the heat would affect him.

He continued to stand there.

"I have touched stars," he said, chuckling. "A puny hundred degrees is nothing to me."

I turned around to look at his companions. They were rolling around on the ground, in excruciating pain. The heat hadn't harmed Itri- but at least it harmed his comrades. I was no longer outnumbered. This was starting to look better.

I walked towards him, then dropped to the ground. My ankle had simply been a throbbing pain in the background, but I had been foolish enough to walk on it.

"Ouch," I muttered.

"Oh, so you're hurt?" said Itri, beaming. "Shall I make the pain worse?"

35

"What are you going to do?" I asked. " The stars aren't out yet."

"Oh, my boy. Just because you can't see them, it doesn't mean they're not there."

Suddenly, I felt a stabbing pain in my back.

"What did you do, Itri?" I said, breathing heavily.

The corners of his mouth curled up.

"Ever heard of the constellation Orion?"

"Yes."

"Well, he was a hunter. And he just shot a comet at you."

He said all of his with a grin on his face.

"You're a madman!" I shouted.

"Maybe so," he replied. "But do you still think I'm a coward?"

"Yes, coward."

He grunted, irritated.

"Then this should convince you otherwise. Guards! Bring her out!"

36

Her?

Two burly men marched out of the door. Behind them they dragged a girl. Her hair was jet-black, her eyes sharp blue....Raven.

She saw me and gasped.

"So, you kidnapped Oscar now, Father?"

"No," I said quietly. "He didn't. I...I came on my own. I had to stop him, and you being kidnapped just gave me extra motivation..." I trailed off. Her eyes were furious.

"Oscar! You needed much more training, much more time!"

"I know. But...I didn't have time. I had to save you."

"Awww, so sweet," Itri intervened sarcastically. "Now, as I was saying.....I'm not a coward. But how shall I prove it to you?" He pretended to muse on the subject.

"Okay, Father," said Raven. "We know you already know."

"Such a smart daughter I have. It's really a shame what will have to happen to her."

"Itri..." I said cautiously. "What are you planning?"

"Well," he said pleasantly, "I was just thinking...there's nothing like a death to prove my lack of cowardice."

"You're going to-"

"Kill Raven? Why yes! Yes I am!"

I stared in horror.

"You really are a madman."

37

Itri cackled.

"And once she is gone....it'll be down to you and me, boy."

Itri advanced towards Raven, a twisted leer on his face. She tried to move away, but the guards held her in place. It was the only time I ever saw Raven with a truly afraid look on her face. I tried to run towards her, but my ankle didn't allow it. Itri drew a dagger from his belt.

"No," I breathed. "Stop."

My pleas were unheard, not that he would have listened to them anyway. The dagger got closer and closer to Raven's throat. Itri suddenly slashed the dagger towards her. And then....simply fuzzy memories.

Blood.

Anger.

Despair.

Screaming.

Heat.

Darkness.

38

My eyes flew open.

"Where...am I?" I mumbled, half awake.

A plump nurse smiled down at me. "Why, you're at the Kontrolli Hospital, honey. You have an ankle sprain and a severe burn on your back, but you should be able to leave in a couple days."

"So...it was real?"

Her face turned serious. "Your battle with Itri, you mean? Yes. It was real. And we thank you for saving us from that horrible man. You are a hero."

"I'm not a hero. I didn't even do anything. I tried to change the temperature, but it didn't affect Itri at all. And I can't do anything else with the sun."

"Oscar....you brought the sun down upon him."

I stared at her, confused. "What?"

"You must have been very angry. You unconsciously summoned part of the sun to fall down onto Itri. He couldn't stand so much warmth and light....so he succumbed."

"So- he's dead?"

She nodded.

"Thank goodness," I said. But I wondered...what could have made me so angry? I struggled to remember what had happened. Itri....advancing towards someone.....slashing them with a dagger....who was it, who was it....Raven. It was Raven.

I sat up, shocked.

"Raven! What happened?"

The nurse smiled sadly. "She's in the room next to us."

I didn't pay attention to her expression. Raven was alive. Raven was alive.

"Take me to her," I demanded.

39

The nurse helped me over to Raven's room. I looked over at her before I opened the door. She motioned for me to go in. Tentatively, I cracked open the door and stepped in.

40

She was laying in her bed. When I walked in, she saw me and gave a weak grin.

"He..hello Oscar." Her voice was quiet and raspy. She didn't sound good, and for that matter, she didn't look good either.

"Hi, Raven. I defeated Itri."

"I know. You summoned the sun, Oscar. Do you know how difficult that is?"

"No, but I'm sure it's not-"

"Oscar, that takes most sky-eyes a lifetime to master. You, though...you're special. And very, very powerful."

I blushed and sat down in the chair next to her bed.

" I only have to stay at the hospital for a few days. What about you?" I asked.

She looked at me. "Oscar..." she said gently, "I'm very, very badly hurt."

"Oh. So a while, then?"

"No. I'm not going to be here much longer," she said with a forced laugh.

"That's great! I-"

She interrupted me. "Because..." she said quietly, ".....I won't be anywhere much longer."

"Wh-what do you mean?"

She smiled sorrowfully at me. "Oscar. The-" her voice cracked, "-the nurses said..."

She trailed off.

"The nurses said?"

Her voice was barely a whisper. "They said I wouldn't survive."

"WHAT?"

"Oscar," she looked at me tearfully, "I'm going to die. Some time in the next two days."

"No! You can't, you've been...amazing and you helped me defeat Itri and you..."

"Oscar, nothing can be done. The doctors- they've tried, I promise. But nothing worked."

"There has to be something they haven't tried!"

She shook her head. "Oscar, just...just stop. It's okay. I stopped my father, I trained you to become a powerful Kontrolli....and there was a price. But I'm fine with that."

A tear ran down her cheek.

"Well...what can I do?"

"Well," she said, "there is one thing. Father is dead, so now you should be able to control the stars. Remember what I said to make the first time I tried to teach you to do that?"

I struggle to remember. "It was....an ice cream cone. Yeah, that was it. An ice cream cone."

She nodded. "Will you do it for me? Please?"

"I don't think this is the time for it, it's-"

"Please."

I looked at the pleading expression on her face.

"Okay," I said hesitantly. She pushed a button on the wall and the ceiling slid away, revealing the dark night sky, dotted with stars. I looked up at it, closed my eyes,and concentrated. Ice cream cone. An ice cream cone.

I opened my eyes. There, above me, was an ice cream cone made of stars.

"There," I said. "But why did you want me to do that?"

She gazed at it silently for a moment. Finally, she said,

"My father, before he turned...you know....he would always create these starry ice cream cones in the sky. It's the very first thing I remember seeing, the sky with that constellation in it. And I remember a feeling of happiness. And because of that....I want it to be the last thing I remember, too."

"Raven...don't think like that."

"I want to, Oscar. I'm going to die either way, I might as well go peacefully and happily. I might as well be as carefree as when I was when I was that small. So...thank you, Oscar. Thanks for the night-flavored ice cream cone. But there's one thing wrong with it."

"What?"

"No star sprinkles on top! Always need those!" She grinned.

I rearranged the stars a bit more.

"There you go, Raven. Star sprinkles."

I sat there for a few more minutes, looking at Raven, drinking in every detail. I had to remember her. Her pale, pale skin, her blue eyes, staring in wonder at the sky, her long, jet-black, feathery hair, spread around her pillow. Then I silently left her room, leaving her to gaze at her starry ice cream.

That night, I cried myself to sleep.

41

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of blaring alarms.

"Emergency with a patient," said a voice over the loudspeaker. "Emergency with a patient."

My weary mind didn't process this. Huh, I thought. Emergency with a patient. Wonder what that m- Suddenly I remembered last night. Emergency with a patient! Emergency with....Raven!

"Raven!" I yelled. The nurse walked into my room.

"I'm sorry, sweetie, but-"

I jumped out of bed and ran out the door, ignoring the pain in my ankle. Panic raced through me.

I'm coming, Raven. I'm coming.

I pushed open her door. Here were nurses and doctors crowding around her bed. What seemed like hundreds of tubes came out of the wall and were hooked up to the person in the bed.

"Oxygen!" somebody shouted. "Give her oxygen!"

"It won't do any good," somebody else said.

"She's going to die..." "no matter what happens..." "feel sorry for that mother of hers..." "nothing we can do now..."

Voices streamed together, but I no longer heard them. I only heard a buzzing sound in my ears, blocking out all else. I shoved through the people, not registering their condolences.

No. No. No. No. No.

I finally made it to her bed. Her eyes were still slightly open, and as she saw me coming towards her, she smiled.

"Hello, Oscar," she rasped.

"Raven, no! Raven!"

"Hello, Oscar," she repeated. "Hello."

Suddenly, her chest stopped heaving.

And her eyes closed.

42

Six years later.....

I stared at my test to get into Kontrolli college. I had breezed through every previous question, but at this one I drew a blank.

Write a poem about somebody you have lost.

I hadn't lost anybody, except for....her. But I couldn't write a poem about her. Even six years later, her death was still a fresh pain in my heart. Perhaps I could have gotten over it if she has died because of something else. I would still be heartbroken from the loss of a friend, of course, but I could probably bear it. But....with the way it happened....I couldn't.

Because it was my fault. She had died because of him, because of her father, but he killed her to prove something to me. And although the nurses reassured me that I did nothing wrong, I knew something that they had hidden from me.

She had been burned from the sun energy I brought down upon him. It had made her injury fatal.

I continued to stare at my paper, when suddenly I heard a caw from outside. I looked over to the window, and, perched on a branch close to it, was a small black bird. A raven. It chirped again, and then I could have sworn it winked at me. I heard a quiet voice in my mind.

Not your fault. It's okay.

I locked eyes with it for a moment, then it cawed and flapped away, soaring through the crisp autumn sky.

Not my fault. It's okay.

I sat there, thinking for a moment, then put my pencil to my paper and wrote a single word: Raven.

What would I write? I didn't know. But I would do it. As I had told Itri so many years ago....I wasn't a coward. I could come to terms with her death. I could rise above it. I could lead the Kontrolli, as was my duty.

As was my destiny.

And I would carry her memory with me forever.

43

Hello, Oscar.

Memories, memories, of that girl.

She wasn't just a girl, she was a bird.

She wasn't just a bird, she was the sky.

She was my sky.

My sky, my bird, my happy.

The star sprinkles on top of the ice cream cone of my life.

The End

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