Two Parts of a Whole - Excerpt from Unpublished "Enemies of Angels"

Submitted into Contest #222 in response to: Write a story that includes someone saying, “You’ve got this.”... view prompt

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Coming of Age Friendship Kids

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“There can only be one!” She mocked an evil laugh, holding the wooden sword over her sister, who played dead in the delight of her sister’s joy. 

“Oh, no!” her sister suddenly cried. The girl blinked and wrinkled her nose as she looked down at her sister, who had pretended to be fainting.

“You’re supposed to be dead.”

“You’re supposed to be eating,” their mother spoke strictly as she entered the scene, grabbing up the young daughter lying on the ground. “Come, the village has already gathered in the Great Hall to feast.”

She dropped her wooden sword, leaving it lying as she chased after her mother and her twin, who had stuck her tongue out. “Mom!” she cried, “She’s mocking me!”

The said mother rolled her eyes as her smaller daughter strolled up beside her with a pout on her face. “Oh, hush, darling. Remember - ”

“I’m not supposed to be showing weakness,” she finished, mimicking her mother’s eye roll. She whined out loudly, “But we’re not even near anybody!”

“Just because you don’t see a wolf doesn’t mean there’s not one lurking,” she advised. Her daughter gave in, glaring at her sister who was mocking her for being scolded.

“Marcia,” the mother hissed again towards the instigating twin, “you know better than to tease your sister! Let them know of no weakness, especially between the two of you. You’re stronger, so it’s your job to protect her.”

Now it was Matilda’s turn to tease her sister, making sure to remain silent to avoid another scolding. Her sister pouted but refrained from snitching on her twin, only gaining a smile as Matilda’s teasing ceased to continue at the sight of the Great Hall and the sound of cheers.

It was feasting time!

Marcia clambered out of her mother’s grasp to join Matilda in racing towards their seats. Matilda beat her, jumping in her preferred spot at her family’s table, snickering as her sister clambered behind her a few moments after, chest heaving.

“You cheated!” she accused under her tone, wary of the children and parents that had eyes on them. “I’m telling Mother later, when she brings our dinner! I’ll take half of yours!”

Matilda rolled her eyes. “We all know that I’m faster where you’re stronger. It’s just simply not my fault, I can’t help it!”

Her twin whined but accepted the truth to her twin’s words, growing excited at the sight of their mother’s approach.

“Here, you piglets of mine,” she teased as she set down their plates. “Eat up, the Trail is set in a week’s time. I need you at your strongest.” While she spoke to both of them, Matilda knew they were pointed at her, but decided to not worry much. So what if her sister is stronger than her? Her sister’s stronger than all the other kids! Surely both of them will be just fine. Her mother should pity the other children for having to contest against them.

Matilda crept out of bed in the depths of the night, grabbing the dying candle that sat by her bedside so that she might see when crawling the halls at night. She wasn’t particularly allowed to, but alas, her mother gave up fighting and gave her a candle to clutch onto as she wandered the pitch black halls in the dead of night.

She clutched her handmade blanket and worn toy rabbit as she gently climbed down the stairs, recognizing the footsteps that sounded in the kitchen. She had to make sure it was him, though, as otherwise she’d have to alert Mother of an intruder. She did not take the last step, but instead peeked around the corner, and caught sight of the man she suspected had entered their home.

Her father.

She grinned, calling out for him. She doesn’t see him often, as he is a high ranked Warrior that often goes hunting and to battle to defend their homeland.

Her father turned at the sound of her voice, furrowing her brows. “You’re supposed to be in bed.”

“I heard you,” she defended.

“Doesn’t matter,” he responded as he walked close and messed with her bed-hair. “Young warriors like you need your sleep. Your Trail’s in a week, you need your strength to place yourself where you belong - with your mother and I. Your sister will  easily rank highly, but you’ll need to fight.”

She huffed, moving her curly brown hair from hanging in her face. “I’ll be fine, Father! I’ll rank right next to Marcia! Then you’ll regret doubting me!”

He chuckled, pulling her up and placing her candle to the side. “I’m sure you’ll blow us out of the water. But you still need to prepare. Your sister’s smart, staying in bed and eating meals like mine before the trail. She’s gathering her strength, and you need to copy her. Now go along now, go back to sleep,” he instructed her as he set her at the top of the steps.

She frowned. “My light.”

He sighed in the darkness. “You need to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness, otherwise your enemies will use it against you.”

Fine,” she grumbled. She then reached out her arms, being careful not to release her blanket and her toy rabbit. “Do I at least get a hug?”

He laughed. “Of course, young warrior.” He reached down and returned her embrace, before turning her around and gently shoving her towards her bedroom. “Run along now, get your shut-eye.”

She heard him creep down the steps and back into the kitchen to scavenge for leftovers, then turned to face the other end of the hallway and snuck to her sister’s room. She quietly opened it, cringing as it squeaked and waiting to see if her father heard, before slithering into Marica’s room.

She saw her sleeping sister snoring away, unknowing to the girl crawling on top of her.

Marcia,” she whispered as she shook the other girl, “Marcia.”

“What?” she grumbled in her sleep, trying to shove her sister off.

Father’s home.

She shot up, accidently nearly knocking off Matilda, who scrambled to get back up before she made a loud noise that would alert their father downstairs.

Sh!” she scolded her twin. “We’re not supposed to be up. He told me to go to sleep.”

Marcia pouted, sticking out her bottom lip to emphasize her emotions before she furrowed her brows and scrunched her nose. “Why’d you wake me up then?”

Matilda shrugged. “‘Cause I can’t sleep now that I’m up. Come on, let’s build a fort and play Knights and Prisoners.”

“Only if I get to be a knight this time!” she responded as she climbed off the bed, dragging her comforter with her. “You always make me the criminal.”

“Come, hurry!” Marcia called quietly as Matilda dragged on behind her.

“I am!” she insisted as she climbed over a log. It bewildered her how easily her sister was able to just pull herself up so easily over something so large. Matilda couldn’t do that! 

Matilda carried on, chest heaving, trying to chase after her sister’s faint footsteps. Once she was a ways past the log and regained her breath, she took off after her twin who could never reach the shorter's speed.

Suddenly she hit something, and fell to the ground with a bang.

“Matilda! Watch out!” her sister warned too late. Matilda held her head and she clambered up with the help of her twin’s hand, grumbling from the pain.

“You could’ve warned me earlier,” she grumbled, to which her sister rolled her eyes. 

“Look, it’s a pretty flower! Do you know what that one is?”

Matilda glanced over to the flower with long white petals folding outwards from its center, revealing its green center from which its pistil stuck out.  “It’s a lily, a white one.”

Her sister cooed at the flower, being careful not to touch it in fear of her hand being smacked by her twin. “Do you want to make a flower crown with it?” she asked, gazing over the other flowers near before pointing towards another lily. “Ooh, look! There’s another one! We can do matching flower crowns!”

“You go get it, I’m tired,” Matilda responded as she picked the white lily. “I’m staying here ‘til it’s time for the feast.”

“Princess Matilda,” Marcia spoke about an hour later, trying to mimic a fancy tone, “would you care to have a glass of tea with me?”

“Why, of course,” her sister responded as she sat at the other end of the tree stump, pretending to take a sip of tea from the plastic teacup they had left weeks ago. “Then, we can go visit your castle together.”

“Oh, of course, but please forgive me, it is a bit of a mess.”

“Nothing the maids can’t clean!” Matilda jokes, causing the both of them to erupt into laughter. 

When they finally ventured to the tree house that their father had built some time ago for them, they went to fetch one of their board games.

“Girls!” their mother’s voice rang throughout the air, causing them to whine. “It’s feasting time! Come down there, we need to hurry! Make sure to not be too much of a mess!”

“But Mom!” they both called out.

“No buts! Come on!”

It was the big day.

It was the day of the Trail.

“Remember everything we’ve taught you,” her mother whispered in her ear as her name was called. “Don’t forget to defend, but also offend.”

She nodded as she walked towards the ring, going up the steps as her sister was walking down, a victorious grin on her face.

“You’ve got this!” she cheered. “This is easy!”

Despite her sister’s caring words, and her mother’s advice, she felt her hands clam up from sweat and a chill go down her spine.

Something was wrong.

Yet she still stepped into the ring, meeting eye-to-eye with a young boy who was to be her component. She glanced up above, at the tower filled with spectators who were to judge the fights.

The Elders. The strongest and wisest, the ones who ranked high and survived their generation, to rule over the next ones until they passed of old age.

Matilda always wanted to join them when she grew old.

She had to make them proud.

With a sigh, she straightened her back and clenched her fists as the referee determined them both ready and called for the fight to begin. Much like her twin, she circled around her component, who then ran straight towards her. She jumped out of the way, only for him to turn and grab her from behind. The boy went for the wrists but she wrangled out of his way, barely escaping before he tackled her.

“End fight!” the referee called a few moments after, giving her time to fight for freedom before determining she had no escape. Cheers erupted as the boy stood up, leaving her to crawl herself up, panting.

“What was that?” her mother hissed the moment she got off the stage, grabbing her by the wrist. “You didn’t even last a minute!”

“I’m sorry, I’ll do better,” she apologized.

“You better. Remember our lessons and fight as if your life depends on it - ‘cause it does. We don’t need you ranking low, you hear?”

“Yes, Mother.”

“Good. Now to practice with your sister until one of you two’s next fight begins. I need them thinking you were just warming up, like you were just dragged out of bed. Understood?”

Matilda nodded before wandering off with the other kids in search of her sister, now actively aware of the eyes they had on her. 

She proved to them they were weak.

She showed that she can be beaten.

She mustn’t do it again. She needs to show them to fear going against her.

“Matilda!” Marcia called as she grabbed her wrist and dragged her beside her. “Are you okay? I saw you get trampled!”

She shrugged. “I’m not too hurt, just beat. Mother told me to practice with you before our next fight.”

She wrinkled her nose. “I didn’t think I was that bad.”

Matilda shot her a pointed look, shoving her shoulder. “She was talking about me. I lost my fight; you won yours.”

“Oh, yeah,” she chuckled nervously, as if trying to play it off as if she knew better. “Of course, of course. Let’s try to find some room to breathe and move first.”

Marcia cheered as she won another fight, brushing the hair from her face.

Matilda sighed as she walked down the steps, clutching her arm, leaving behind the cheers from the winner.

Marcia pranced around in delight at another fallen opponent, and another round of applause.

Matilda spit the dirt out of her mouth when her victorious opponent finally released her.

“Thank you all for attending,” the Head Elder spoke hours after the end of the Trail. “As always, this year’s Trail has been truly surprising. Our Elder, Xander, shall begin listing out the rankings.” She stepped back, allowing Elder Xander to step forward with documents.

“We had very many children this year competing,” he spoke, “with a total of two-hundred and nine. However, this has only allowed for more competition to allow our children to push themselves harder, and to create stronger future generations that are guaranteed to survive. We have also had a student turn out outstanding, winning every fight they’ve fought today, and guaranteeing themselves as first place. Give it up to our new Champion!

“Marcia Barrett!”

Screams erupted as both of their parents embraced Marcia, before finally allowing Matilda to do the same. Others of the town cheered for their new Champion, the strongest of the land that they shall serve in the future.

“I bet your name’s coming up right after mine for sure,” Marcia lied in an attempt at comforting her sister, who was nervous from her previous losses. Matilda shrugged, shaking off her mother’s gentle hand on her shoulder. Their parents were excited, as was Marcia, yet they waited patiently for Matilda’s to be called.

“And for last place,” Elder Xander continued, causing Matilda to wince as the whole family put their heads down. “Matilda Barrett!”

October 27, 2023 18:11

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