The First Winter

Submitted for Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends by circling back to the beginning.... view prompt

10 comments

There once was a time when the world was young and held no more than a village. It was a time before hatred, war and suffering. The mortals of the village had only seen peace and happiness, death was of nothing to the villagers, for they didn’t even know what death was. There was only life.


The villagers worked together to keep balance within their land, each having a different job. Some would prepare meals for the village to feed; others would keep the buildings strong to withstand the storms. Everyone had a job, but two twins had the most crucial role of all.


They tended to the land and watched over all that grew and lived there. It was the most important job, even if they didn’t know it yet.


The Brother and Sister spent their days in the sun, bringing water to the growing garden and feeding the animals. Hand in hand, they would run barefoot in the grass, laughing and playing in the sunlight without a care in the world. 


When it rained, they would bring the animals to their shelter and leave out pails for collecting the water. After they finished their work, they would dance and get dirty in the mud that would form under their feet.


When the two of them were together, everything was perfect. There was nothing to worry about.


But it doesn’t stay that way. Nothing can keep that way forever.


It started slow, so slow that no one saw it coming.


The plants in the garden started to grow differently, despite the non-changing care from the twins. The flowers were dull, the fruits not as sweet. They still supplied for the people of the village, but it wasn’t the same. There was no panic because the garden was still providing, but that didn’t last for long.


The river was becoming shallow, the rain clouds coming less and less. The twins had no idea what to do; their days no longer spent playing together, but now trying to ease each other’s uneasiness. They were scared, but they were still together.


The plants started to shrivel up. The animals stopped giving eggs and milk. The village was becoming weak, and the twins were terrified. Nothing they did could help heal the land and animals. It was the worst the village had been.


But it got worse.


The people of the village had never seen sickness before. They were not prepared for the terrible effects that came along with it. They had no medicine, no doctors, no idea. First, there was only one with the mysterious illness, then another, then another. 


Before the village knew it, everyone was sick, weak and full of dread. The twins no longer spent their days tending the land, as there were no plants for them to tend too. The animals were no longer willing to be at the hands of the twins. Their days were spent in tears in each other’s arms.


One night the twins were in the garden where the plants no longer grew, hoping for a better tomorrow. They had no energy to return to their home, so they stayed and slept under the stars as they did time and time before.


They fell asleep together, but only one woke up.


None of the villagers had ever heard a scream so loud before that morning. They gathered all the energy they could muster to go to the garden, just to see the Brother holding his Sister’s lifeless body in his arms. The anguish on his face was nothing they had seen before.


It broke their hearts to watch him make the first grave in the middle of the twins’ garden. The Brother grieved over his Sister’s grave, a snowflake landed on his shoulder. Never before had he felt this cold.


It only got worse from there.


The water began to freeze, the ice shocking the villagers who went to grab water for their families. The animals running away, the chilled air becoming too much for them to handle. The trees became bare, plants wilting into the ground and becoming hidden under the blanket of snow hailed down from the skies. The village was terrified, but the twin brother was not, for he barely noticed. He stayed at the side of his sister, forever grieving. Never before had the twins been apart.


Day turned to night, over and over again. The Sun and Moon watched over the village from their place in the sky. Before the winter came, the Sun watched the twins work and play in the sunlight, while the Moon watched them as they laughed with each other before resting under the stars.


The skies were thick with clouds, trying to block the Sun’s and Moon’s light. Though they could never leave their place among the stars, both Sun and Moon vowed to do their part to bring the twins back together.


During the day, the Sun found a spot through the maze of clouds. It shined down on the Brother, blessing him with life, giving him the gift of fertility to nurture and provide for the plants, animals and mortals that would roam the earth.


During the night, the Moon shined down on the Sisters resting place and blessed her with death, giving her the gift to care for those whose time has come to rest and restore balance to the earth.


The Brother cried his tears under the moonlight, watering his Sisters grave with tears of fertility. It started as a small sprout, unnoticed until it grew abruptly into a grand tree, adorned with flowers that glowed like the stars.


In the middle of a barren, winter wasteland was a tree. There wasn’t life as far as the eye could see, but right in front of the brother’s eyes was a fully grown tree. It was no ordinary tree, no, it was quite far from that. In the branches of the tree was his sister.


The earth broke free from the snow, creating steps to allow the twins to reach each other. The brother took his place next to his sister, embracing each other. The Sun and Moon brought the twins back together, though they were no longer the same mortals, they were still sister and brother.


*****


“I thought I would find you here, Brother.” Death called out to Life, who sat in the branches of the tree he grew for her. With the help that Life summoned from the ground, she joined him on the branch. “You are bothered, are you not?”


“I am not bothered, Sister,” Life lied, watching the first snowfall of the new season.


“I know you better than the Moon knows the Sun,” Death nudged, looking over the field where the summer crops would grow. “I can feel your worry and pain, it happens every winter.” Death’s voice calmed Life’s nerves, made it hard for him to brood over what was bothering him.


“It’s just an awful reminder of how I lost you,” Life stated, tears welling in his eyes. They sprouted into sparkling flowers as they hit the bark of the branch. “It was painful to be without you. I’m afraid it may happen again.”


“The first thing I remember is hearing your voice again,” Death spoke with her sweet voice, wiping Life’s tears with her shadowy cloak. “You were always by my side, and I will never leave your side again.”


“You promise every winter, but I can still remember the cold it brought during our time apart.”


“The winter is what brings us together, for the earth needs the winter as we need each other.” Death held her brother’s warm hand with her cold fingers. “The land needs to rest and be restored so that it may grow stronger when the snow melts. The dead must find rest so that the living may move forward. Without you…”


“There is no me,” Life finished, the two of them giggling as they did when the earth was young. Before, there was only a village, but the mortals have grown with the helping hands of Life and Death.


Summer turned Winter, the day turned to night. The world had changed more than any mortal could perceive, but one thing had stayed the same.


Two twins tended to the land and watched over all that grew and lived there. Together, Life and Death cared for the people of the earth just as they cared for each other.

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10 comments

E S
21:27 May 27, 2020

This is a very well written story. I love the heartfelt narration. It's brimming with emotion. Excellent work!

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Lynn Penny
04:25 May 28, 2020

Thank you, I had fun writing it. Glad you liked it.

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Rosey Flower
18:18 May 27, 2020

That is a beautiful story! Wow!

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Lynn Penny
20:27 May 27, 2020

Thanks!

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Rosey Flower
20:56 May 27, 2020

Your welcome!

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Iris Koga
03:56 May 22, 2020

Wow! What great writing - I could feel the despair in the story as the village withered. The dialogue between Life and Death is beautifully written - especially this line - “Death spoke with her sweet voice, wiping Life’s tears with her shadowy cloak.”. Excited to read more from you!

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Lynn Penny
21:26 May 22, 2020

Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. This is a semi connection to my other story “the hands of death” if you want some more life and death action. Can’t wait to read more of your work.

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A. y. R
23:49 May 21, 2020

This was a really interesting story! I loved the way you narrated it, almost seemed like the retelling of an ancient legend!

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Lynn Penny
03:17 May 22, 2020

Thanks! It's a concept I'm working on for a bigger project!

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Talia Vander
00:07 Jul 02, 2020

Wow, what a sweet story! I love the smooth way you transformed a pair of mortal twins into the beings of Life and Death :)

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