The dusk was so pretty to look at. The sky is in a mix of brown, orange, and a little bit of blue. The clouds are all in the sky making neat pictures in her eyes. And the sun, once a vibrant gold, now an orange as it began to set behind the mountains.
For Aurora, all is right in the world.
“Hey big brother,” she said as she leans against a tree. She sees her brother Ray laying down on the grass in front of her. “The sunset is pretty,” said the thirteen year old girl.
“You said that for the fifth time already,” Ray chuckles as he cranes his head back and grins. “Then again, I won’t deny it. Sunsets are always pretty to look at.”
The girl giggles to herself. “I know!” She stands up, stretching her arms and legs.
Ray rolls over and stands up as well, brushing his raggy shirt and pants. “Well, we better get going.” The boy said. “Oak will be getting worried if we delay any longer than we have to.”
Aurora sighed but understood her brother wanting to return home. Their adoptive father Oak worries for them whenever they come home around sunset or even worse, nightfall. She holds out his hand as he takes it.
“Okay…still…” She turns her head to the setting sun, now barely poking beyond the mountains. “Will we be able to stop by that place?”
“You mean the flower bed?” Ray asks looking down at his little sister who smiles back. “What’s so funny?”
“Where else would I mention silly?” She coos. Aurora began to tug on him. “Let’s go! Maybe we can see it!”
“It…oh!” Ray’s eyes brights up, the sixteen year old smiling down at her in equal anticipation. “Now I know what you’re talking about! Yeah, if we make it in time we can see them bloom!”
Aurora nods happily and she let go of Ray’s hand and runs into the forest. “Race ya!”
“Hey no fair!” Ray chases off after her. Aurora couldn’t help but giggle to herself. She always had the sharper mind of the two, making challenges on the fly, plus she is the faster of the two. Aurora feels the locks of her almond brown hair sway and fly as she sprints through the trees, dodging each trunk and pine, leaping over every root and bush. She will need to make more makeshift sandals when she gets the chance.
She darts to the side to avoid a tree, and sending a squirrel up the tree in fright. She lets out a laugh in humor.
“Aurora wait up!” Ray’s voice calls from behind her. Aurora wasn’t intent on losing to Ray in a race through the woods. Many a time he trumped her at climbing, wood carving, and gathering. Even when she was told by Oak to go out and collect berries, Ray always found the more juicier and tastier ones when he was supposed to hunt. Gathering was a wife’s job and he got the better of her at that! Not on her pride as a woman and lady will she lose to Ray, her doting big brother once more!
Aurora let out a laugh as she hops over root and stone, and she turns her head to get a better look at Ray.
But she couldn’t see him.
“Huh?” Aurora wondered. She slows her run to a jog, head still turned. She didn’t run that fast did-
Her foot caught a root and she fell forward, tumbling down a small hill. The young girl let out some grunts and cries as she rolls down onto her side.
“Ouch…” She groaned, rubbing her arm as she shook her head to shake any rocks, leaves, or anything that was caught in her hair.
Then her heart froze at the sound of growling. And it is very close…
Aurora lifts her head and she can feel her heart plummet to her stomach, her blood freezing on the spot.
A good ten paces away is a wolf. It’s coat a dusky black, it’s eyes a piercing blue, and it’s fangs glistening white and sharp. It was large, huge. The chances of it being an alpha is good, in fact, Aurora began to think she just treaded straight near a den’s territory. It’s hair on his back was on end, and it was glaring hard at the girl.
The wolf snapped, making Aurora snap up to her feet, then she fell and she scurried back, her hands feeling the dirt of the forest floor and the crunching of leaves. She had torn her fur dress and as she tried to scuffle away, her back hit a boulder.
And the wolf’s growling did not cease as it took a step closer to her. Every step closer made Aurora’s heart beat faster.
She still had nightmares of such a creature…and she had reason to.
It was this creature that took the life of her parents when she was very young. No one would ever forget the image of such a demon.
The sound of her father’s throat being torn out
The red staining the floor.
Her mother’s scream.
Aurora’s lip started to quiver and deep down she began to hate herself. She should have just walked with Ray, and not race off just to be his better at something that was completely irrelevant to the survival of hers, Ray’s, and Oak’s lives.
“Ra…” She whimpered. The wolf walks closer, growling intensifying.
“Ray…” She feels tears sting her eyes and her heart beating as if it is wanting to escape out of her chest and escape from being eaten by this creature.
This is it…Her stupidity was now going to cost her her life, all because of a race she set forth in motion so she can brag about it over the dinner table.
“Ray…” She lets out another weak cry, arms risen to protect her head, eyes closing so that the last thing she sees won’t be a demonic black alpha wolf.
She hears the wolf approach within four paces of her, before something hit making the wolf whine, then growl ferociously. Aurora didn’t know what, nor care. She just stayed in her fetal position.
“Back! Back!” Shouted a voice that brought her soul, once resigned to death, back to hope. She opened her eyes.
There is Ray at the top of the hill, eyes ablaze with determination, and in one hand has several stones. “Get away demon!” he yells, throwing well-aimed stone at the wolf’s head after well-aimed stone.
His second stone hit the crown, the third the nose, enraging the wolf as he barks at the trespasser at the top of the hill. His growling intensifying and hair on end, but he is stepping back more and more.
“Back! Raaaah!” Ray shouts, lifting his arms to make himself look bigger and throwing another rock, even another piece of bark. The stone missed, but the piece of bark struck the wolf in the face.
The hit makes the wolf let out a cry and turn tail back down behind some trees. But it turned around growls more, eyes burning as it is at a distance. Ray continued his calls and crowing, making loud noises of his own to intimidate the beast.
Aurora feels Ray’s course hands on her own and he brought her to her feet. “You alright?” He asks, not looking at her, eye still on the wolf, and one stone in his left hand.
Aurora nodded. “Y-Yeah...I think…”
Ray chucked another stone at the direction of the wolf, hitting his paw. The wolf let out a bark, and turned around, giving up and trotting away.
Aurora felt herself be tugged along as she and Ray walked up the hill. Ray didn’t say a word.
“Ray…” Aurora whimpers. As they got to the top, she tackles him in a hug, letting the tears flow.
“Easy…” He said returning the embrace.
Auroa flinchs at her ear being the target of a flick of the finger. “Ouch!” She rubs it, seeing the stern eyes of her brother.
“You could have gotten yourself killed!” He barks, eyes wide in anger. “If you had slowed down and not wander in wolf territory you--“
“Would have avoided it I know…” She said sullenly.
“Never race like that again! I…” his voice softens as he hugs her tightly. “I could have lost you…Aurora…I can’t afford to lose you…”
“I’m sorry big brother…” Aurora said, letting more tears escape her eyes. “I…I knew I was fast of foot and…”
“I wanted to beat you to a race to that place…”
“Don’t do something so petty again! I mean…that wolf would have killed you if I hadn’t arrived when I did.” Ray said in a stern hard voice. He was channeling Oak whenever he was playing discipliner well. “You…” His voice returns back to the soft caring big brother that she knew.
She feels his knees give way, and they both sit up on their knees, still in embrace. “You are my whole world Aurora…I don’t know what I would do if…” he said, voice barely a whisper.
The brunette began to beat herself mentally. How stupid. How selfish. How unbelievably petty of her. She knows she and Ray are close…but this…
She tightens her hug, burying her face into his shoulder.
“I won’t do that again Ray…” She said softly. “I don’t know what I’d do without you too…”
Aurora feels Ray place a hand on the back of her head. “Okay…at least…we learnt a lesson from this…” He said as they separate and looking into each other’s blue eyes. “Now…” He said with a slight smile.
“Wanna go see the flowers bloom? The moon will be shining eventually.”
All was well with the world indeed. Aurora beams. “Yes!” The two siblings stand up and hand-in-hand, walk off into the wood as night began to take over the sky above.
The trek went on for a good half hour without incident, Ray navigating through the dark woods well. It always intrigued Aurora. Oak would have a hard time looking in the dark, but for Ray he can adjust his eyes so well for whatever time of day.
“How do you do it? You know…be able to see in the dark and throw rocks so well?”
“I just can. And I practice throwing ball with Oak sometimes.”
“What?!” Aurora gasped. “Oak plays ball with you! No fair!” Oak usually gave her dolls he bought from the village far down the road, or knitting equipment.
But throwing ball! She looks to the side in jealously. “And all I get are dolls, yarn, and some metal sticks…”
“Hey, if it weren’t for you learning how to nit, we’d have a harder time with our clothes. Oak doesn’t have enough money to get the good clothes, all we get are old clothes no one needs anymore or use skins.”
Aurora looks down at her old brown dress, seeing the patches and stitches on it. “You have a point…”
“We’re almost there…come on, let’s go!”
Ray began to tug Aurora along into a power walk, and the two walk past great tree after great tree…
Until they come upon a great dark patch of land. Ray and Aurora jog along the side of field and sit on a small hill, eager and anxious.
“They haven’t bloomed yet!” Aurora smiles. She looks up, and beyond the tree line…
Is a great bright full moon, it’s light coming through the clouds as the clouds left for the mountains.
Aurora tightened her grip on Ray’s hand, and he did so in return, smiles on their faces.
They see one light on the far side of the field, then another, another, and more and more lights came to.
The Luna Blossoms, flowers that bloom only at night and receiving moonlight and remain in their buds during the winter and the day when the sun is in the sky.
And the field began to wax more and more towards them, and soon enough, the entire clearing was in bloom. The Luna Blossoms were in full bloom, glowing in the night.
Aurora never got tired of this scene. She and Ray would always go to this spot whenever they could. Even if Oak were to give them a stern talking to, even if they have to encounter a large big bad wolf on their after dinner walk. It was all worth it.
“You know…” She leans back, palms resting on the grass and craning her head to look up into the moon. “I like the moon.”
“Do you now?” Ray looks up at the sky with her too. “Why’s that?”
“The moon’s light is not hot, but cool and fresh. It is always there put us to sleep and guide us to our dreams, while the sun makes us wake up and end our dreams. The moon doesn’t cause hot water, nor dried up plants, nor making people thirsty…” Said Aurora with a smile. “It is kind…loving maybe.”
“Loving huh? When you put it that way. The moon…” His mouth turns into a smile, looking out to the full moon and flowerbed. “Really is better than the sun.”
“Hey Ray, question?”
“If the moon was a lady…” She giggles mischievously. “Would you marry her?”
Ray rolls his eyes. “If the moon was a lady. Like that will happen…” Aurora couldn’t help but chuckle. He was always like that when it came to asking about other girls who lived in the village down the road. He was dismissive and aloof. He really only cares for her, and it made Aurora happy.
Yet deep down, Aurora wishs to do more. Ray gets to play with Oak, be better at everything she does aside from running, and there was nothing she could do about it.
One day, while it is wishful thinking, maybe one day running to a new place altogether would suffice. She can play ball. She can better the things she can do.
“Just wishful thinking is all.” Aurora stands up and treaded into the flowerbed, carefully avoiding each flower. She started to twirl, her hair and dress following suit.
Ah dancing. It is something Aurora wants to learn so badly and be like those pretty ladies in long dresses. Yet she seeks to dance elegantly in this setting, this place, amongst the flowers that bloom under the moon.
“Hey be careful!” Said Ray’s voice. She knows already, that silly brother. Besides, this is her first time dancing in the flower bed.
“I know!” She calls out, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as she stops twirling around in the dirt and she looksup into the sky, into the moon.
She brings her head back down to look at the relaxing Ray.
And she saw another pair of eyes behind him, behind the trees, and her heart froze again, and she couldn’t speak.
That wolf is back, staring right at her, coat of night blending right into the darkness and thanks to the light of the blossoms, she was able to see it.
But then, the wolf disappeared, as if melting into the ground…
“Aurora?” Ray asked. How could he have not have seen the wolf. That demon no less than five paces away from--
“Oh…” Aurora brought a hand to her head. “What the…” Did she hit her head on her tumble down that hill? Why was she feeling light in the head. “I feel funny…” She took a wobbly step to Ray, then another. Her vision was blurry but behind him she saw a light beyond the wood, in the trees…
“What…who?” She mumbled as she took another step , almost losing her footing had it not been for Ray being there in time holding her up.
“Aurora? Aurora? Are you okay?” He asked, but his voice was getting dimmer and dimmer.
She felt funny in her forehead and she saw Ray’s worried gaze shift to her forehead, and she felt her eyelids get heavy and she yawned.
She saw Ray’s lips move, but the sensation was too strong.
As her eyes close, she sees the face of her worried brother and all the lights in the sky. Her eyelids closed.
Darkness is all around her now. She hears a cry, then a loud voice of surprise.
Aurora opens her eyes, and…
‘I got shorter! How in the—‘ She said, but words did not come out of her mouth.
But growls and cries of some kind. The world around her is bigger, and she turns her head to see Ray staring at her in shock and surprise.
‘Ray!’ She said, but no words come out. Only a bark.
A bark? What the? How can that be?
Ray said words, but Aurora couldn’t understand him. It is as if he was speaking gibberish!
‘Ray, why are you speaking like that?’ She asks walking towards him.
‘Huh? Why am I using my hands to—‘ Aurora looks down, but she doesn’t see hands.
She sees paws. Wolfs paws.
Aurora’s mind stops. How can this be? She has become…
‘Oh no! R-Ray! Don’t be afraid! It’s me! Aurora!’ She cried out, yet nothing but barks came out. She saw Ray back away. ‘Ray!’
Ray said something and took a step towards her, speaking in a tongue she doesn’t understand.
It hit her. The feeling of dread. That wolf melting into the darkness before. It must have changed her when she locked eyes with the demon.
And now she has become the demon.
‘Ray…’ Aurora let out a sad whine. He hates her now, that must be it. There is no other explanation to why he is acting that way and speaking in gibberish. His face may not show it, ripe with concern, shock, and even fear, but she knows he will hate her.
She can no longer be his little sister.
Aurora felt tears come to her eyes as she turns around and began to sprint, eyes closed. She heard Ray’s voice, but didn’t look back.
She is a monster now. She became the very demon that killed their parents. He hates her now. She reopened her eyes, seeing that she has crossed the Luna Blossom patch.
Run. Don’t look back. She is a monster. She can never come back. She can never sow, or cook, or gather for her father and brother again. She is a beast now.
But something dawns to her as she comes to a stop near a cliff as she looks out to the vast wilderness, the moon’s light baking the forest and mountains in light.
She can never be held down back at home for being a girl.
Aurora is free, yet it comes with the cost of her family. She can do whatever she wants, so long as she can avoid humans and adapt, she has something she never thought she can attain.
The bittersweet truth of it all, with Ray maybe plotting on ways to bash her head in, she can never come back to his arms, watch the blossoms glow.
She looks up at the moon and lets out a cry of sorrow and anguish.
Yet it is not longer the cry of a human girl.
But the howl of a wolf, as free as the wind.