Word Count 499
By Sharon Collins
In the dreaming-dark Sister returns to me. I lean against her for warmth as we sit on the ledge at the cave’s mouth, watching the moon dance on the waves. We are happy and we are playing our favorite game. It is a singing game. At first our song is soft and sends no echoes back from the cliff walls. I begin by singing my name-song high; Sister sings her name-song higher. I sing low; she sings lower. I sing fast; she sings faster. I sing slow; she sings slower. I sing loud; she sings louder until the echo of our name-song fills the sky and sends the dark-wings fluttering around our heads. It is a game I love to play, but I never win. Sister’ song is much more beautiful than mine. I am lucky she shares it with me.
In the dreaming-dark Sister is with me still. I rub her belly and scratch behind her ears. She growls and bites at my toes, but she does not hurt me. She would never hurt me. Her warm tongue tickles and we roll back into the cave, in a tangle. Suddenly, I hear other voices singing. They are not like mine; they are beautiful like Sister’s. I have never heard such voices. We stop our play-battle. Sister takes her paws from my back letting me lift my head. I see them, little ones, singing with their noses pointed to the stars. They stop their song when they see me and tumble over each other to reach the safety of Sister’s side. One, the bravest, the color of the deep forest pine-shadows, peeks out at me. One, the color of frost on the sand, turns and shakes its tiny tail at me. And one, the brindled color of Sister’s Mother’s fur, trembles between her paws. Sister pushes them closer to me. Nose to nose we stare into each other’s eyes. They lose their fear of me as they sniff and chew on my hair which is very long and spread about me . I hold very still listening to Sister’s voice inside my head. She tells me they are her children given to her by Shadow. She sings their name-songs, Frost-Shadow, Pine-Shadow, and Smoke-Shadow. Frost and Pine are girls like me. Smoke is a boy like his father. Sister says I may, so I reach for them but gather only emptiness into my arms. Saddened, I wake myself from the dreaming-dark. I want to cry as I reach out my hand, hoping to feel Sister’s warmth, knowing I will not. This waking I do not cry. The joy of the dreaming-dark was true. I am no longer alone.
I do not leave for the Great Clan-Gathering. The little ones cannot travel far, especially Smoke who is much smaller than his sisters. My family will stay in our cave, safe, and warm, and dry at the edge of the Great Water and make plans for what is to come.