Sunday, March 15, 2015
io9 Concept Art Writing Prompt, Feb 12, 2015
My mother told me there is a place in the mountains where all unloved children go. She also told me, much later and under the influence of considerable amounts of alcohol, that I once had a half-sister.
I tried to pry. I didn't get anywhere, then or later. I consulted grimoires and rumors, oracles and old wives. They eventually led me to a place in the Winding Mountains. Led me to her.
In the days and weeks before, I conducted another search, more clandestine and and discreet, or my sister's father. I found no trace of whom it might be. Something like this makes you stare at every man of a certain age a bit longer, harder, and with less certainty.
There is a cave in the Winding Mountains. A chasm barely noticeable in the twists of rock. Repelling down, I find her. The Old Mother. She tells me she knew it in her bones, that her own children would devour her. That her first memory was tearing through her own mother, scrambling with the rest of the brood. Turning on each other.
"I wanted children," she rasped. "But more than that, I wanted to live. I still do." She was centuries old, the Old Mother. She had a brood of her own collected from orphaned and abandoned children, brought to the mountains. Among them my own half-sister, pale, subsisting on moths and bats and cave creatures. I as so confident, to that point. That I would come down and rescue her, bring her into the light. Looking at her then, in her dress of cobweb silk, the clash of our divergent biographies finally struck me. I took her into my arms for the briefest of moments (she squirmed, not quite understanding) and left her, and went back into the light.