-Part 1: The Rise
It was early morning. I had risen before the others, as was the norm. My twin brother, Davis, lay stretched across our floor. I sighed and delicately stepped around his slumbering form. Cecelia was the only one I could count on to be awake, but she was no help. She only got up to wash her hair and be presentable before her younger brother, Mickey, and us- her cousins. As the old, battered door to our bedroom creaked open I saw something dash by the window. I was tense already, and I gripped my butcher’s knife in my petite fingers.
Someone groaned beyond the couch in our living room. I tip-toed over and snuck my eyes above the back of the sofa. It was only Mick, dreaming heavily in his mass of blankets. I smiled and winked at the limp body. I grabbed the binoculars from the kitchen table, right where they were supposed to be. My head popped out the front door and while stepping onto the cement, square foot ledge cautiously. My eyes, now hidden behind the green glass and black plastic, glided from side to side in search of prey. I had to find something, I had to! It was an important day.
I ran, dashing madly over fallen logs and startling the Screechers. Those were the birds we had no name for but happened to make the most irritating and obnoxious noises. I tripped over a root in my flurry. Tumbling down I went, knocking into trunks and branches, and occasionally a Screecher nest. The ground whirred below me and the color of my dark green shorts blended well with the damp dirt. Finally, my feet were pushed up against the largest tree, Watcher. Our tower was above.
It was something Davis and Mickey had constructed out of our firewood and nailed together with the bathrooms’ door hinges. In retrospect, it was their fault we froze that winter and everyone’s asses were chilly whenever we took a dump. Cecelia and I were definitely unhappy when one of them stumbled down the halls in the middle of our relief and the others were evenly embarrassed vice versa.
But, that morning, I couldn’t afford to be slowed down and smile over silly memories. I pulled myself up with the lowest branch on Watcher and sighed as I examined the cuts on my legs. None were serious but they’d all come stinging back tomorrow. Actually, I was only glad that my knife had fallen off my belt loop before it chopped one of my limbs off. I dragged my bruised self up the hill until I saw its metallic gleam on the horizon.
As I went around Watcher, I eyed my favorite spot longingly. That fourth, sturdy branch from the top looked so pleasant in the morning. I sighed as I remembered how clear everything could be from that high, especially the tips of Society Three’s chimneys. I shook my head. No time for dawdling! I was getting my priorities straight. My head was muddled and grey like murky pond water. Nothing I saw in my head was ever clear and it was easy to be distracted. At least, on Greyside Mountain it was.
The sunlight shimmied over the peaks of Society Three, shaking itself over the unpleasant bleak matter. The hunt was on! The forest was stirring and life was beginning to emerge. I had to act quickly or all the good game would have disappeared. The pine smell was comforting as well as exciting. It reminded me of home and the wondrous, deadly chase I played with the creatures so early. The smell of iron would be intoxicating- so pleasant and hardy, but tender and warm. My mouth watered with the almost-feel of meat and its smoky scent.
I was off topic again.
Focus, Desiree, or I’ll give all your meat to Cece, my inner voice threatened. I scowled inward.air That’s not fair! I argued, but the voice would have nothing of it. I always did know what was best for me, but something seemed urgent that day. I scurried along, imagining myself as a wild cat, like a panther, or tiger. I clambered up trees and hid in the branches. It felt so secretive and genius of me that I could have been a slinking puma. While eyeballing a small, blue Screecher, I heard the crackle of leaves behind me but paid it no attention. As long as it didn’t spring on my kill first, I wouldn’t have a problem. Suddenly in a whisk, the Screecher vanished. I jumped back, startled, and said to myself in a whisper, “Where did you go, breakfast?”
Snake-like, I wrapped my arms and legs around the branch and looked forward. Everything was silent and there was no noise. It was worse than the roar of lions mixed with Mickey’s crying. Where was the audio, the forest noises?
“Tryin’ to catch my bird, eh?” a booming voice said loudly from behind. I shrieked and flopped to the ground floor. The air was knocked out of me flat just like that. I leaned up on my elbows to encounter Davis, fully awake with his bow and arrow strapped tightly over his chest. I frowned and snarled at my brother, hoping he’d get the message. Of course, being Davis, he didn’t understand anything my hostility meant.
He leapt beside me, his black hair flashing dark blue in the light. He giggled and stuck his plump pink tongue at me. Before he could hock a loogie, I pinched his freckled nose and leaned forward with it. I glared at him and hissed, “That. Was. My. Kill.”
Davis laughed, yanked free, and joyfully jumped from tree to tree until he swung off the edge of the shortest cliff. He always managed to escape my grasp. It was frustrating. I was competitive and I was older than Davis by like an hour yet he still beat me at almost everything. I was best at math and science while he constantly crushed my stick figures with artful charcoal drawings and scenery. I sighed and smashed my eyebrows together in a forceful crease.
“Davis!” I yelled, “We have to go back in an hour! Cece and Mickey will be awake!” I retrieved no answer from him in the distance, so I shouted even louder a second time. He grumbled, “I heard ya, I heard ya.” Leaves fell to the ground as he continued with his play on the horizon.