The Creature With a Pelt of Stars

Submitted for Contest #59 in response to: Write about a character arriving in a place unlike anywhere they’ve ever been.... view prompt

33 comments

Submitted on 09/14/2020

Categories: Fantasy

The last glimmer of starlight dims and goes out as the holes in the sky are sewn up. I look around me, hoping to somehow find out where I am, where I came from, and who I am. But all I see is black.


"Haley." A female voice calls out softly to me, almost a whisper. I drop a crumpled up piece of paper I didn't realize I had been holding, but I pay no attention to it. I turn around, but see nothing. The floor of wherever I am is covered by water, about half an inch deep. It is warm.


"Who are you?" I am confused. I am worried. I am scared. I have no memory of what I was.


"My name is Vix. But that hardly matters. We are here to focus on you, and what you have done."


I say nothing, but look slightly to my left. I see the tip of a tail vanish in the darkness, and I can't tell what animal it belongs to.


"What have I done?" I can feel my voice rising, along with my panic. "How am I supposed to know when I can't remember anything?"


It is Vix's turn to say nothing, and I bury my face in my hands. But when I look up, an elegant fox stands before me, its pelt dark as night, shimmering with stars. I look into its black eyes, which reveal nothing. Its paws are white, and with each step it takes, water ripples outward in perfect circles around it. The beautiful fox neatly sits down, wrapping its tail around its paws.


I walk up to it and sit down beside it.


"You will remember."


I find myself not surprised that it is the fox that now talks. It is the same voice I had heard earlier, and I realize that this perfect creature with a pelt of stars is Vix.


"What are you?" I ask. "Some magical fox of some kind?"


Vix laughs softly. "Something like that. I am a star spirit."


I am more confused than ever. Vix stares forward, not even casting a glance towards me.


"Star spirit? What does that mean?"


"All of the stars hold their own spirit. We are the star. When it is born, so are we. But when they die, we are released to the Council of Spirits, where we are moved to something called a Spirit Void." Vix lifts her right paw and gestures around us.


"To humans, a Void is nothing but a vast world of emptiness and darkness. To us, it is a lush forest filled with wonder, life, and perfection. There are six Spirit Voids in total."


"But why am I here?" I ask.


Vix looks over to me, and stands up. "To make amends. I am to be your guide; to help you along the way. When my work is done, I shall be returned to the Council of Spirits, where I will be sent to the next Spirit Void. Follow me."


I find myself running to catch up with the beautiful spirit. "Where are we going?"


"The Cave of Memories. It holds all of your mistakes, proudest moments, and, well, everything." Vix lowers her head. Her eyes cloud up, but she shakes it off and continues. "Here is where you will make up for what you have done."


"But what-"


"Be patient, Haley. You will see."


As we continue forward, memories of my life flash through my head. My mother singing lullabies to me, gazing at me with love and affection. My father leaving before my younger sister was born. My mother turning cold and distant. My best friend, Iris, helping me get through just about everything in life while my mother did nothing. My mother hurting my sister, Camryn...


"Stop," I say, tears welling up in my eyes. "We need to stop." Vix turns around, staring blankly at me.


"It's too much. I can't take the pain." I collapse, letting emotion flood over me.


"Haley. What you are seeing is what leads up to what you did."


"But it was my father's fault! If he hadn't left, my mother still would have loved me and cared for me. Camryn wouldn't have been abused, and I wouldn't have- what did I even do?"


Vix shakes her head. "As a Star Spirit, we aid humans in making up for their mistakes. We have a strict code, and telling you what you did before you find out yourself is against that code. I took a vow, and I will honor that. We must move forward."


I slowly nod my head, picking myself up and taking a deep breath.


Vix turns and continues forward, and I can't help but be mesmerized by the way her smooth, perfect pelt glides across her body with each step she takes. But more memories begin to flood back into me, and I watch myself become full of hate and anger. I get worse and worse, as does my mother. Just as I think I couldn't possibly get any worse, my mind goes blank and I shake my head. I blink my eyes to find myself standing before a looming cave. It towers above me, but inside, it is full of light and warmth.


I glance at Vix, but she shakes her head.


"This is something only you may do. At the end of the Cave, there is something called the Pool of Recollection. That is where you will find out what you did. I will await your reappearance right here." She sits down and licks her right paw, then rubs it on her sleek head. I slowly enter the cave, not daring to look back.


The Cave of Memories is not long; not deep. After only 20 feet, I remember everything about my 17 years of life so far. Secretly making Christmas cookies with Camryn when Mom was away for the weekend, then stuffing ourselves with them so they were gone before she returned. Scoring the winning goal of a championship game for my high school soccer team. Staying up until four in the morning with Iris, releasing hushed giggles every now and then. Except what I did that brought me here.


Before long, I find myself standing at the edge of a pool of water. It is crystal clear, and a jet of water shoots out the middle of it. Everywhere else in the room is pitch black, unlike the rest of the Cave before it.


I slowly reach out to the water, and as my finger makes contact with it, I find that it is cold as ice. It sends a chill down my spine, and as I shiver violently, I have one large, clear memory.


I sit in my room, humming softly and staring at my ceiling. For the first time in many weeks, I feel content; I feel calm. It is unsettling. I close my eyes for a brief second, but it's not long before my bedroom door is thrust open. I sigh, knowing it wouldn't last long.


"What do you want, mother?" I snarl.


"Haley, for years I have cared for you after your father left, and you still need to use that tone of voice with me?" Her voice is shrill.


"You have done nothing for me! You left me to learn everything by myself while you moped about, hurting Camryn and not being a real mother! Right now, I have no parents."


My mother's once beautiful, once lit with joy eyes widen in surprise and hurt. Tears fill them, and she turns, running out of my room. I feel no regret.


***


A few hours later, I softly knock on her bedroom door.


"Mom?" No answer.


I open it to find a clean room, something that this room has not been in 13 years. On the freshly made bed sits a piece of paper. I slowly walk to it and pick it up. It reads:


My dearest Haley,

For years, I have shut you out of my life. In return, I was shut out of yours. I wanted to fix that, I really did. But earlier tonight in your room, when I said I had cared for you? I know I haven't. I somehow wanted to believe I did, because I regret not loving you and caring for you like I should have. I kept telling myself it wasn't my fault, and I guess I thought I would believe it.


I'm sorry, but I need to go. I can't be around you anymore, not because I don't love you, but because you turn into something you're not whenever I'm around you. Take care of Camryn. I love you forever and always, my sweet pea.


-Mom


I gasp, crumpling up the paper in my fist. Collapsing onto the floor, sadness, regret, and anger at myself cascades over me. She left, and it was my fault. What would I tell Camryn? Would I ever see my mother again; tell her I'm sorry? I love you forever and always, my sweet pea. Tears run down my face. She hadn't said that in 13 years.


I am no longer cold. The Pool of Recollection is once again before me, and I realize what I have done.


***


I reach the end of the Cave of Memories, eyes puffy from crying. Vix has not moved, but when I look into her eyes, she smiles. I am confused. She glances behind her back, then slowly fades away, leaving only a wisp of stars above where her head had been.


It moves in the direction that we had come from, stopping a few feet away. I take a step forward, and as I do, the wisp does too.


I follow it for what seems like hours, until it stops. I glance around, only to see nothing but darkness once again. I slowly reach out to touch the wisp, but it shoots up, becoming a small star in the darkness. But then, it dims, sewn up like the star I had first seen. I take a step forward, and my foot hits something. I look down to find a crumpled up piece of paper; the one I had been holding when I arrived. I cautiously open it up, and gasp. It reads:


My dearest Haley,

For years, I have shut you out of my life. In return, I was shut out of yours...

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

33 comments

Harken Void
07:00 Sep 22, 2020

Hey Zea! I read your story and here's my feedback: I liked the descriptions - little specific details (ripples around the fox's paws for example) really help to put you into the scene. The story ran smoothly, we were given information about what was going on just right. I'm not a fan of sad stories, but I like what you did here. The story is ambiguous in a way; we do not know whether Haley imagined all this to deal with the trauma or if it really did happen, to help her move on. The interpretation is up to the reader. Well done!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Iris Silverman
17:26 Sep 19, 2020

I love the description of the stars vanishing as "holes in the sky being sewn up." It instantly created a very vivid image for me, which I think was a great start to the story. I also liked how you mentioned this same metaphor to close the story. I would have liked to know more about why the mother was so absent and cold. I know you mentioned the father had left but I feel like the story could be strengthened if you added a bit more about her suffering from depression because of it or possibly turning to substances... these are just some i...

Reply

Zea Bowman
17:28 Sep 19, 2020

Thank you! That means a lot. I'll work on that next time; I can't edit the story anymore. Please like if you enjoyed!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sabine Loire
21:46 Sep 18, 2020

Wow... I have no words...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Josefin Björk
18:18 Sep 18, 2020

You have a very poetic way of describing things! The title itself is beautiful and really sets the scene. I also enjoyed the sprinkles of "animalism" from the fox, like when it groomed itself. Reminds your reader that it is, in fact, an animal. I also like that you don't feel the need to explain everything right away, instead giving it to us piece by piece, letting information come organically from the story. It's very self contained, and I love how the eding makes it feel almost like a loop is being started. Is she in purgatory, perhaps? ...

Reply

Zea Bowman
18:22 Sep 18, 2020

Thanks! Please like if you really enjoyed! I also hadn't realized this at the time, but Molly Leasure helped me realize that it's better to leave the reader wondering where Haley is or how she got there. Honestly, I don't know where she is either (well, she is in one of six Spirit Voids, but where are those located?)! It was fun to write!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Molly Leasure
17:24 Sep 18, 2020

I enjoyed this. It was whimsical and interesting. For a long moment I thought Haley was dead, but I'm glad that it was just a journey into reliving a moment she needed to. (Unless she is dead? I'm still partially convinced she is. >>) I would love to see that fox in person, I imagine it's beautiful!

Reply

Zea Bowman
17:35 Sep 18, 2020

If I'm being honest, I don't know if Haley is dead or not either(haha!)...that's the thing about short stories: you can't fully explain everything as thoroughly as you want to. I also wanted to keep this one short, otherwise I would have had more backstory as to how she got there, and what she does after she reads the letter again.

Reply

Molly Leasure
17:40 Sep 18, 2020

Honestly, I think it works really well NOT knowing how she got there. It's a snippet of her adventure and the "not knowing" makes it all the more intriguing! Now it's up to us, as the readers, to make guesses.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Dk Marie
16:09 Sep 16, 2020

Enjoyable, interesting read!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Regina Perry
01:52 Sep 15, 2020

This is a great story, Zea! I felt instantly transported to the magical, dark place in which Haley finds herself. I love the way you ended it, with just the right amount of creepiness and unanswered questions. Were you hinting that her mother was a star spirit? Or at least in league with one... I caught a few things you might want to fix. "There are 6 Spirit Voids in total." Small numbers are usually written out, so it would be a good idea to replace "6" with "six". ""But why am I here?" I ask. Vix now looks over to me, and stands ...

Reply

Zea Bowman
01:55 Sep 15, 2020

Oh my gosh thank you so much! It really helps to have someone look over my writing! I'll be sure to fix those things. And the "each" was actually a typo; I meant to say "reach." Once again, thank you so much for the feedback. I greatly appreciate it :)

Reply

Regina Perry
02:00 Sep 15, 2020

You're welcome. I figured it was a typo, but I guess my brain jumped to a different way of fixing it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Jessie Nice
08:31 Sep 29, 2020

I'm a bit late to the party here but I just want to add that I was fully hooked on this magical story - I love your description of the Star Spirit! I love asking questions to myself at the end of stories and coming to my own conclusion however I just do want to ask you - do we know what happened to the mother? Did she run away or kill herself? It's a beautiful short story I love the other-worldly nature :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Keerththan 😀
02:16 Sep 25, 2020

Hey Zea I love your descriptions. The poetic way you used is wonderful. Amazing story. Please keep writing. Would you mind reading my new story? Thanks.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Rose Nelson
00:04 Sep 24, 2020

Very creative setting and story with the Star Spirit and the Cave of Memories; I really like the suspense and Haley's struggle to figure out what's going on and why. You also write very well. I guess I wish Haley had done something worse than just shutting out her mother, who clearly needed shutting out. I get that it's a story of self-forgiveness, but for me the impact would have been greater had the "sin" been more serious. And I would like to know what the mother did to Camryn, if it went into the bounds of child abuse (and why Haley esca...

Reply

Zea Bowman
02:14 Sep 24, 2020

I was originally going to have the mother kill herself (which cause Haley to blame her mother's death on herself) but then decided against it. Not sure why. I wrote this a while ago.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lynn Penny
14:07 Sep 22, 2020

Ooooh! I love this type of fantasy, anything to do with the afterlife Is my favourite. You did an awesome job balancing the details of your world with the narrative, and it was an amazing read.

Reply

Show 0 replies
10:45 Sep 22, 2020

Hi, Zea! This story was amazing! I love your description of Vix, and all the unique things that Haley witnesses. I loved this story! Great job, and keep up the good work in the future! -Megan Sutherland

Reply

Show 0 replies
Lily Kingston
20:52 Sep 21, 2020

Great story. It’s so vividly written. I feel sucked into the fantasy world you’ve created. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
S. K.
15:05 Sep 21, 2020

i really like all your description! good job and this was super cool. it was very poetic! also liked the touch of mystery.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Dhananjay Sharma
08:55 Sep 21, 2020

Beautifully constructed. Simply amazing. https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/59/submissions/34852/ give a read to mine.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Ola Hotchpotch
06:40 Sep 20, 2020

It's a nice story . Is VIX a star creation ?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Rayhan Hidayat
03:37 Sep 20, 2020

This was a beautiful, quirky and surprisingly heartfelt piece. The descriptions were spot on, creating a mysterious, ethereal vibe throughout, especially the stars getting sewn up at the beginning and end (I know others have pointed this out but it makes everything come full circle and really is just so good!). And the whole ambiguity of whether the narrator is dead or just in another plane of reality... honestly I thought there would be some kind of reveal that she kills herself in response to the mother leaving, but this is fine as it is, ...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Maggie Deese
19:48 Sep 19, 2020

Fantastic, Zea! You had beautiful descriptions throughout this and a wonderful writing voice. I loved going on this adventure with Haley and getting to know her backstory. Well done!

Reply

Show 0 replies
S. John
01:05 Sep 19, 2020

"...as the holes in the sky are sewn up." - A strong a beautiful beginning. Very good!

Reply

Show 0 replies
00:32 Sep 19, 2020

I love your descriptions, and the way you slowly reveal the world. Keep writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies