“Superstitions” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Hannah Sheehan, Homeschool, USA.
A gentle fall breeze rustled Morgen’s brown hair. She was sitting next to her sister, Laika. They had been telling each other raven stories their grandmother had told them. Laika’s golden hair covered the straps of her blue dress. Morgen’s teal dress flapped around her knees as she stood up. “Where are you going?” asked Laika jumping up.
“Back to the tent,” answered Morgen.
“I’m going to ask if we can explore,” said Laika.
When the two girls entered the tent, they found their mother cooking hot dogs. “can we go exploring?” questioned Laika.
“Be careful, and remember it gets dark earlier so late in the camping season,” said their mother. Morgen firmly looked at her sister. Laika could not mistake the look Morgen gave her.
Laika led the way. Morgen, running to catch up, called gently to her younger sister. “Do you know where you are going?”
There was a quick answer, “To the lake!” Morgen sighed with relief that her sister was going to a familiar place.
A few minutes later, the girls came to the small lake. They stopped to rest. After playing in the water, building sand castles, and racing around the lake, the sisters went farther into the evergreens playing a game of tag. Deep into the trees, the siblings got tired and found a patch of moss to sit on. There Morgen began her favorite pastime, telling Grandma’s raven stories.
The girls were interrupted by Laika’s stomach. “Is there an earthquake in your stomach?” asked Morgan.
“I think so!” said Laika. “Let’s go home.”
After a few minutes of walking, the girls realized they were lost. Exhausted and scared, they plopped on the ground. “Listen,” whispered Laika. There was a croaking.
“What is that sound?” whimpered Morgen.
The sisters got up, and hand in hand crept away from the noise. After feeling a spider web on her forehead, Morgen screamed, dragged her sister back the way they had come, and tripped over a dirt and leaf covered monster. While Morgen screamed, Laika covered her sister’s mouth and exclaimed, “Oh, he looks hurt.” Crawling forward, Laika discovered the monster was actually a raven with a broken wing.
Suddenly, an eerie noise passed over the girls. Three ravens flew over. “Bad luck,” cried out Morgen. “Stop! Remember the raven stories I told you? Three ravens are definitely bad luck.”
“Have you ever read a factual book about ravens?” Laika asked. “The folk tales you were telling me are fun but not based on truth. Ravens gather together in winter to keep warm at night.” Laika reached out, plucked a handful of berries, and plopped them in her mouth. Morgen touched her lucky golden chain. She hoped it would keep her sister safe.
The wounded raven squawked as if to say, “I’m still here.” Laika cautiously approached the hurt bird. With a piece from the bottom of her dress, she made a bandage for the raven’s wing. Laika wanted to bring the raven home, but Morgen insisted he was a bad omen. While the girls were debating, the raven astonished them both by taking flight.
Laika got up and ran after him, but collapsed to her knees clutching her stomach. Morgen was immediately at Laika’s side. “We need to get home,” announced Morgen. However, instead of home, they found a field of yellow flowers.
“I need to rest,” admitted Laika.
The girls sat down in the field of flowers. “It smells like licorice,” said Morgen.
“The smell makes my stomach feel better,” said Laika.
Morgen pinched off some leaves. “Try it. I remember Mom telling me about a plant that smells like licorice can cure stomach aches.” Morgen handed the leaves to Laika, then felt for her lucky necklace.
“Laika,” Morgen’s voice was shaky.
“What?” asked Laika.
“My chain,” Morgen was two steps away from a sob. “Where is it?”
“I don’t know.” Laika’s words sent Morgen into a sob.
“We have to go back for it!”
When the girls got back to where they had mended the hurt raven, they found the chain. It just wasn’t exactly accessible. In a tree, about five feet from their heads, they saw flashes of blue and gold as the bandaged raven and another fellow raven played with Morgen’s gold chain. “Give me that back!” shouted Morgen. Instead of dropping the chain, the ravens rose in the air and played with the chain while flying away. “After them!” screamed Morgen.
After chasing the ravens for a long time, the two girls crashed to the ground. Something bounced off Laika’s head and landed in front of Morgen. Morgen’s chain! Morgen jumped up and twirled, but Laika caught her mid-twirl. “Look,” Laika pointed at their parent’s tent. Laika grabbed Morgen’s arm and dragged her sister towards camp.
“Slow down,” gasped Morgen. Laika responded by abruptly stopping. Morgen ran into Laika and the two went tumbling down the hill, right into their mother’s big pot.
The sisters heard their mother’s footsteps approaching, and there she was with a surprised look on her face. “What are you doing there?” There was a long silence and their mother began to chuckle. “If you don’t answer, I will just make you part of the stew.” The girls jumped out of the pot and ran to the tent.
Once in the safety of the tent, the girls lay down and then their father entered. “How were your adventures?” he asked.
“Fun,” said Laika.
“Scary,” said Morgen.
“What happened?” asked Father.
After telling everything to their father, he, in return, told them that Native Americans thought ravens were sly, yet smart. “Although ravens were thought of as tricksters, they were also heroes. It was told that they helped shape the world and were important parts of culture. The Northwest tribes such as the Tlingit, used them for clan names and totem pole symbols.” Father paused and looked suspicious, “Our next trip can be camping in Olympic National Park!” The girls knowingly looked at each other. “And the flower…your mother knows about that kind of stuff.”
The girls ran to find their mom before their dad could plan anymore crazy trips. “Fennel!” Their mother sounded alarmed, but calmly continued, “Morgen, you did the right thing by giving your sister the fennel. Fennel is a cure for nausea, vomiting, spasms, cramps, and hiccups. It also is a rich source of vitamin A. However, if people keep growing fennel in Washington, they need to be keeping it in their garden, because it destroys native plant life. If your father carries on with anymore of his crazy trips, we might see it again.”
That night the girls fell sound asleep with dreams of ravens and fennel.