Raven

She can’t sleep despite the warm bodies and the deep thrumming, a fluttering of hummingbird activity in her chest, reverberating weirdly. She feels calm and muddled, her thoughts coming back in a loop to last night’s incident. She had been awake as she now was, lost in idle thoughts, lulled by the soft snores and restlessness of tired bodies. She never did adapt to the nighttime rhythm of this country, resolutely attuned to the long Arctic days where life did not still during summer, precious waking hours stolen from the long winter months.

She plays with her cloth doll. It feels heavy and foreign in her hands, nothing like her baby brothers. She loves the twins more than life itself. Their smell brings a tender ache in her bones, a longing to see and touch them. The doll is a little piece of home to hang on to until she gets better. She tries not to think of home, of them. When night comes, she does not succeed.

A coughing fit overtakes her. She can not suppress the noise and a sister comes to her help propping her up with pillows to help clear her lungs. She was taken by surprise and did not have time to muffle her cough. She is coughing blood droplets, against which the sister wears a white surgical mask. Her uniform is all white. Thankfully, it is young Myriam, she of the kind eyes and gentle hands. In the morning, she brushes her hair while making soothing sounds. She does not speak her dialect; she do not speak hers. It is lonely being sick in a foreign tongue, far from home. Giant trees loom and obscure the sky. Everywhere you look something stops your gaze. The spirits are trapped and cannot roam freely.

The cough subsides. She drops heavily to the pillow, spent, calling for blessed sleep. The sister stays by her side and she manages to regulate her breath and deepen it, feigning sleep. Sister Myriam moves away to survey her other charges.

Her thoughts drift back to the previous night. A car arrived late in the day and a man in an anorak and shoulder-length black hair came out. He looked disoriented and small as he was escorted into the building. Ever since, she has been trying to locate him. She feels better knowing she has an ally, maybe someone to talk to. She will be as patient as the seal hunter. Her dark eyes glow in the half-light, the corridor lights always on whenever she wakes up.

She speaks to her doll in hushed tones. The man is an uncle mandated to take her back home. The man will turn into a rainbow at the end of which wait the twins. The man is a raven on whose back they will ride home. She falls into a feverish sleep peopled with fantastic dreams where she is playing with her brothers and everyone is healthy and strong. Raven watches over them.

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