Story-a-Day September marches on! After today, finding writing time is going to be more of a challenge, but I’ll do what I can.
In the meantime, today I sort of combined a backstory with a story from the alternative universe’s holy book.
Thanks for reading!
The other parents at the temple told Bless Far not to worry. “Siblings fight,”
they assured her.
“They’ll grow up and look out for one another. You’ll see.”
Bless Far knew they were right. What did she know about siblings? She too had been an only child. Most of the people she knew were only children because birthrates had been dropping for generations. But Caryn Smyth had come from Mercury, where having three children was considered next to having none at all. Bless Far often wondered how the government managed it—such large families on such a tiny planet!—just as she wondered why Caryn and her partner had immigrated to Earth—there couldn’t possibly be a respectable reason—but Bless Far wasn’t the sort of soul to ask personal question, especially not of someone from so distant a place.
“I remember one time,” Caryn was saying, “I locked my little sister out during a solar flare. Mom slapped me a new point of view, I can tell you. Oi. She was mad. And Lyndi had a terrible burn. I did feel bad. Which is more than I can so for our brother, Kyle, who’d steal her food right off her plate, and our folks didn’t even notice. That girl went to bed hungry lots, which is probably why she’s still the tiniest. She makes me look like a Ganymede giant. Seriously.”
Bless Far held her youngest daughter, Miracle June, in her lap. The two-year-old was asleep. The gash on her forehead had been cleaned and bandaged. Rarity Vaine, the older daughter and cause of the incident, sat peacefully on the temple’s playroom floor, playing with a set of well-worn blocks. The four-year-old couldn’t read, but she studied the words carved into each block she picked up. The temple never missed an opportunity to expose the children to verses from the holy book. Stay true. The God shines upon all in creation. Prayer lights the path. “But what about the Eves?” Bless Far asked. Though there were many stories of the Eves early days among the stars, no one had to ask which story she meant.
After a short while lighting up the night sky, the Pleiades sisters wished to thank the God for the gift of the heavens. The seven Eves had by this time taken names, yet another story, to guide the prayers of all who they shined upon. It was Ele, the amber star, who desired to make the grandest of the gifts. Hers, she proclaimed, would be the largest, most never-before-imagined. Every soul in creation would know her gift and be in awe.
Her sisters, save one, did not argue. Astera turned to her other sisters. “The God sees us all equally. We should not strive to outshine one another.”
The others agreed, but mindful of their own time to create the ideal gift, they saw no reason to take up Astera’s argument. “Let her be,” they counseled. “The God shall see us all and know our hearts. Let this be what matters.”
But Astera did not listen to their wisdom. She turned away from her own search and kept watch over Ele. That she knew not what her sister was designing further unsettled her hotly burning heart. Once the pulse of jealous begins, it pumps more and more from the heart to every limb, and soon Astera thought of nothing else but the beauty Ele was making. The high holy day would soon arrive, and she, Astera, would have nothing to give.
In her despair and fury she snatched a passing comet and sent it on another course, which is yet another story, but the comet caught Ele’s attention. “Dear sister,” she said, looking up from the light in her hands. “What have you made for the God, the bright and wondrous? Have you seen Mer’s fine nebula? It’s so beautiful, I wish it were a coat I could wear.”
Astera hadn’t seen Mer’s work, nor anything from any other sister. They would each have perfect gifts except for her, who had been distracted by Ele’s delusion of grandeur. “What do I care of nebulas or planet rings or falling stars?” Astera asked. “You are trying to outshine us all. You are trying to rise above the heavens.”
“I only wish for my gift to be worthy of the God, the bright and wondrous. Do we not wish for the same? Look at what I have found, sister.” She held out a star unlike any Astera had ever seen. “I have found the first dying star, sister. The first death in all creation! I shall save its life and string it back into the heavens. Won’t the God be pleased?”
But knowing her sister had been taken up with pride, Astere struck her sister, the luminous Ele, from her place in the sky, and the dying star fell from Ele’s grasp. It tumbled and it cracked. It trembled. And all the sisters had to shield their eyes from the consequence. The star collapsed into itself, into nothing, into a hole that until moments before had not existed. A blackness the universe had never known seeped out like blood. The blackness stained the heavens and as the sisters watched, nearby lights fell within and vanished.
And Ele, having been pushed by her sister Astere, could not make her way back to her proper place sky. She fell out of sight from Earth and many other worlds, the darkness forever separating her from the other sisters. They were afraid to cross the light-eating pit now seemingly alive in the heavens.
The God did come to the Pleiades and ask many questions, but that is yet another story.
Bless Far crossed her wrist as she always did when troubled. A sibling squabble had created the darkest monster in the universe! Maybe it had been for the best when she’d never planned to have a second child. Maybe they’d gone against the God by consorting with scientists, and how could anything brought about through sin ever be blessed?
She held her youngest daughter tight. The other parents didn’t understand. They didn’t know the full extent of their blasphemy, and never would know if the God had truly forgiven them as the temple leaders said. And if God could forgive, surely so could sisters.