NEW VERSION! Night one: The Girl With the Red Raven Feathers in Her Hair

NEW VERSION! Night one: The Girl With the Red Raven Feathers in Her Hair

A Chapter by A.R. Elvira
"

The first story in a series of nine featuring the girl with the red raven feathers in her hair. If you like the art of story telling with a adult aimed fairy tale style then you'll like this.

"

In South Asia, where the days boil and the nights simmer, it is said there was a bird that once existed unique to that area: The South Asian Red Raven. The species dwindled into nothing long, long ago, and no official record is kept of it ever having existed at all. Except perhaps, if record of her one day proves to be anything more than an old wives tale, a story regarding a young girl no older than 18 who kept the bird’s feathers in her hair. She moved constantly throughout South Asia on foot. The last place she set her filthy foot in was a tiny village on the very outskirts of West India. It was considered so rural and isolated that no one actually grouped it with India itself or bothered giving it a name. On that day so long ago, in that town so far away, the South Asian red raven species moved from being endangered, to extinct and the girl was never seen again.


The girl with the raven feathers in her hair cooked meringues. In every place she set foot in. She didn’t need to carry equipment or utensils, because she was so well known for her meringues that when her leather feet touched the earth of a new city or town the shop keepers came running. As the baker did, in the small town in East India. He knew that if she allowed him to take her in and use his kitchen he would have enough business in that one day to feed his families and support the little town for the next month without work, as people from all over Asia rushed as fast as they could to the tiny, provincial town without a name.


The girl never asked for money, or payment in anything worth having. She asked simply for raven feathers. She would accept nothing except the red embellishment, for which she tucked in her hair with her collection of others. Killing one of the birds was forbidden as the species waned, and so people had to find other methods of getting a feather. First, a person would have to find one, then to sneak up on one, and pluck a feather from its body, like precious a jewel, only to watch the treasure chest shoot off in a flurry of angry squawks and chirps.


Then as tradition dictated (from which tradition is unclear, only that it was tradition), they quietly thanked the raven for its generosity for the gift they had given them, and then on that same day travelled as fast as they could to the little town where the baker, with a calm, pleased look in his eye, stood by his shop front, greeting the gathering crowd.


The raven feathered girl’s meringues were not particularly delicious, in fact, many knew better recipes and had better cooking talent. On Fridays, you could even taste salt in her poorly cooked dessert. It wasn’t the food that encouraged people to go for miles to find her raven feathers though, it was what she said to them when her hands touched theirs in passing their meringue.

Sometimes it was nothing. A quiet nod as she adjusted some feathers in her hair, a small smile. Other times it was what seemed like nothing. A strange language, of which only the word ‘octopus’ could be understood. Or a string of completely unrelated words. Sometimes the receiver would blink blankly in response, but smile at her never the less, and take their leave. Other times their eyes would snap open wide.


‘My dream,’ they would gasp, ‘that was in my dream.’


And everyone would look at her in awe as she used her strong arm to beat eggs and sugar together. Other times her words were far more substantial. Tell your mother you love her, before tomorrow night. Return home and look under the bed. Stay out of so and so’s way. The baby will be male. And her advice always proved to be of great importance, her predictions always proved to be right.

News about her spread faster than she travelled. Rumours about who or what she was accumulated. She could only be a reincarnation of Lord Ganesha himself, says the baker. While the jewellery seller only shakes her head when asked, her gold necklace with Jesus Christ hanging off it jangling against her neck, her lips tightly sealed from what seems like a mixture of disbelief and remorse. They all had their stories, their ideas about her. But there was one whose ideas were more meaningful than any other.


He was a broken boy. Some say his intentions were to capture her heart by offering more than any other. Others say it was simply curiosity. The baker tells the tale as if he had been there, explaining how it was all a terrible misunderstanding, a mistake. The jeweller just looks out to the horizon silently, unable to speak of the event.


The true reason was this: He was paid. He was desperate, a street rat with nothing to his name. He would be insane to pass up the opportunity of so much money. It wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t planned or thought over so many times that it sounded like the right thing to do, it was just a transaction. As cold as a winter’s morning.


The Raven Feathered girl had asked for payment first, she always did. He reached into his bag and pulled out something heavier than any feather could have been. It was strange, because she wasn’t beating, or cooking yet. Just standing behind a clean kitchen counter, watching her first customer of the day. As if waiting for him. He dropped the raven on the counter, still warm. Its feathers were as red as the blood that trickled across the table.


The girl plunked a glistening ruby tail feather from the lifeless form, and walked away. The crowd was too numb with shock to do anything, never would they consider killing something as rare and sacred as a raven, and they feared her response. Would she turn any moment now in fury? They almost anticipated a screamed curse, maybe the skies would open up and their town would be destroyed, maybe the drought would return. But she did nothing, just faded into the everlasting dust.



© 2013 A.R. Elvira


Author's Note

A.R. Elvira
This is a new version of this story: Night one of nine (read the prologue before this if that made no sense). For those of you who have didn't read the first version, please tell me if you found this engaging or boring, and if you followed everything that happened even though the sentence construction is a little complex. Are sentences too long for you to follow? I talk about the girl travelling everywhere, as a person who is everywhere is south asia, but I try to focus her into on town on this particular day (the day the bird went extinct). Is this clear? That she is well known all over south asia but right now I'm talking about one day in this one town in india? If not do you have any suggestions? The town doesn't have a name, was that too confusing, should I just make up a name? Did you like it overall? I know the ending is quite abrupt, it is only the first chapter - it hasn't finished yet (: .

For those of who know of the first version, I thought I should address some of the things you pointed out to me that could make this story better -The fact that the boy seems more important than the girl: The last story in the series focuses purely on the boy. He is a major part of the nine stories altogether, which will be seen in the following chapters. The fact that meringues are a weird choice seeing as the story is set in asia: The girl is from the west, as will be highlighted in the following chapters. Sense of time: It is set in the past - no more satellites of telephones, I decided to just cut all that out so it was more focused. Well I thought this list was going to be longer but I can't remember any of the other things said right at this second...

Thank you all so much for reading.

My Review

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TLK
The first line doesn't really help to accentuate much about the piece for me. One problem is the typo in "sticky eyed lids". Another is that it is overlong. Mostly, the way that you say this does not indicate anything interesting about the teller: you are merely saying "this is an old and almost forgotten story".
Perhaps a framing device with the narrator quickly relating (one paragraph) searching for the story and finding it somewhere unexpected would do? Or maybe you just need to start telling the story instead.
The use of 'meringues' threw me somehwat: are these common in East Asia? I feek that a more exotic food-stuff would bring the reader in further. The last line of the first paragraph would interest me more if the shopkeepers were shown being more greedy -- this would intensify the feeling of the girl being used and the oddness of her asking only for feathers. It would also make sense later when they protect her from the mysterious pursuers.
Your exposition regarding the extinction of ravens comes rather late, and breaks the flow of my interest in the girl. I wonder whether it would be more fascinating if the narrator heard about the girl through their cataloguing of the history of the extinct raven: it would get this exposition out of the way and immediately captivate us in a story of a girl who is collecting mementoes of these disappearing birds.
"The people of East Asia were a respectful type however," this smacks me as a stereotype. Even though positive, I just can't believe it. I might be basing my antagonism on watching Kung Fu films regularly, but there you go.
The introduction of the boy comes from nowhere, and I think that this is a mistake. The boy is actually the person you want to explain -- the girl functions as a mystery to both the reader and to the other characters. The boy is the one who proactively acts on the world (killing the last raven) and the girl is the fast-fading 'soul-collector' who tidies up their last remains for some other-worldly reason. It is like a story about a statue being approached by a human who wants something from it -- the artfulness is in finding out more about the human as reflected in the statue.
Overall, I feel that this is actually a story about the boy who is finding out about (as we are) the girl and the red ravens.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Thank for the review TLK, you brought up a lot of issues I really need to work on with this story. I.. read more
TLK

11 Years Ago

If the town is a character, then the town could tell stories. Perhaps the narrator lives in the town.. read more
A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

hmm. Actually the town itself telling the story is an interesting idea...Thanks for the suggestion! .. read more



Reviews

Captivating work. It reads like a parable, only the final meaning still escapes me. The girl disappears because a raven was killed on her behalf correct ?

In any case, your style has me wanting to read more. I am in awe for the feeling that you manage to create like this girl is the new Jezus...

Well done.

Posted 8 Years Ago


It was engaging yes; you told an interesting story. But somehow the end disappointed me.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


[send message][befriend] Subscribe
TLK
The first line doesn't really help to accentuate much about the piece for me. One problem is the typo in "sticky eyed lids". Another is that it is overlong. Mostly, the way that you say this does not indicate anything interesting about the teller: you are merely saying "this is an old and almost forgotten story".
Perhaps a framing device with the narrator quickly relating (one paragraph) searching for the story and finding it somewhere unexpected would do? Or maybe you just need to start telling the story instead.
The use of 'meringues' threw me somehwat: are these common in East Asia? I feek that a more exotic food-stuff would bring the reader in further. The last line of the first paragraph would interest me more if the shopkeepers were shown being more greedy -- this would intensify the feeling of the girl being used and the oddness of her asking only for feathers. It would also make sense later when they protect her from the mysterious pursuers.
Your exposition regarding the extinction of ravens comes rather late, and breaks the flow of my interest in the girl. I wonder whether it would be more fascinating if the narrator heard about the girl through their cataloguing of the history of the extinct raven: it would get this exposition out of the way and immediately captivate us in a story of a girl who is collecting mementoes of these disappearing birds.
"The people of East Asia were a respectful type however," this smacks me as a stereotype. Even though positive, I just can't believe it. I might be basing my antagonism on watching Kung Fu films regularly, but there you go.
The introduction of the boy comes from nowhere, and I think that this is a mistake. The boy is actually the person you want to explain -- the girl functions as a mystery to both the reader and to the other characters. The boy is the one who proactively acts on the world (killing the last raven) and the girl is the fast-fading 'soul-collector' who tidies up their last remains for some other-worldly reason. It is like a story about a statue being approached by a human who wants something from it -- the artfulness is in finding out more about the human as reflected in the statue.
Overall, I feel that this is actually a story about the boy who is finding out about (as we are) the girl and the red ravens.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Thank for the review TLK, you brought up a lot of issues I really need to work on with this story. I.. read more
TLK

11 Years Ago

If the town is a character, then the town could tell stories. Perhaps the narrator lives in the town.. read more
A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

hmm. Actually the town itself telling the story is an interesting idea...Thanks for the suggestion! .. read more
This writing piece is Sick!, I enjoyed it My eyes couldn't leave the page till I was done. the story hooked me quickly and didn't let go till I was done. Great job!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Thank you for the kind words! So glad you were engaged he whole time.
it held my attention to the last word. so it was enchanting story :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

I'm glad it kept your attention, thanks so much for the read!
Prritiy

11 Years Ago

you are welcome :)
My dearest A.R.,(Titiana) or what have you. You have here a wonderfully, imaginative work. As it stands, alone, a neat tale that would be well put into a book of short-stories. If it is just the beginning of a larger tale, or even, series of tales based upon adventures of those seeking the "girl with the red raven feather in her hair" or perhaps, the adventures of those who have spoken to her, it doesn't matter.(How's that for a long complex sentence) There were a few small spelling mistakes and odd analogous phrases, but overall, I was swept forward and compelled to read on. One thing I thought odd, although not necessarily a big issue, is the time period of the piece, because it seems at first like we are talking about the past and then you go on to explain that people have satellites and whatnot. This is perfectly fine in another universe or, I guess if you believe in earlier human civilizations with technologies akin to today. Lastly, you repeat "East Asia" quite a bit, but never really, give a name to any specific city, restaurant or place. This struck me odd because you say in the story that people would travel from town to town if they heard that she was somewhere. This makes me think that these people all lived very nearby, or through some other means of technology they are able to receive messages from someone of the "feathered girl" showing up and are able to travel over vast landmasses to get to her with relative ease.(East Asia is quite large) I do so, love this story and the imagination behind it. Perhaps you will do me a favor, and read the 'Legend of Purumani' which I have posted a rough draft of in my writings.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

This is exactly the type of review I needed. You gave me a great new perspective on this piece, ther.. read more
Astro

11 Years Ago

I'm flattered that you hold my review in such high praise that you are encouraged to edit your story.. read more
Very well written. You do a great job painting the townspeople, whilst leaving the woman a mystery. Juxtaposing the two was a great idea, and you pull it off quite well. Thanks for the story.

Oh... and you wrote furry instead of fury in the last paragraph in case you want to fix it.

Real enjoyable read, and reading it helped me think about my writing and how I can improve so thank you :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Thanks so much for reading. Yes typos are all over the place in this piece. I'm flattered that you w.. read more
Ah. A very well-spun tale. I very much liked the ending, as you built up the shock of the crowd and balanced it well with the girl fading into dust. You are very creative, as just the first paragraph shows. I would like to see the creativity taken just a bit further. The beginning and the end are very solid, but I think just the littlest bit of work can be done in the body. I feel like the reader is taken from this point of wonder in the girl and immediately taken to the part with the boy who brought her the dead raven. I personally, would like to see a little expansion with the wonder part, and might make the already powerful ending that much more powerful. All in all, fantastic job. I look forward to reading more of your work. ~Never Forget

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the constructive criticism. I'll definitely take this on board and work further o.. read more
A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

And thanks for your kind words, too, I'm very flattered (:
Porter

11 Years Ago

Anytime! :) ~Never Forget
I enjoyed this quite a bit. There were a couple of typos you may want to read for, such as "And know one, even if they had been witnessed eating" not a big deal, just something I noticed. I definitely found it to be engaging, and I didn't get distracted by the sentence structure at any point, as for the ideas in the story being implausible, I think that it was fine, I mean people have no trouble reading about dragons and mages so I think this was very beleivable. It felt like more of a legend to me, and I think that it is a good stand alone story, though I also feel like this would work well if it was put inside a longer story to teach one of the characters a lesson or something along those lines, just a suggestion of a possibility. Nicely done.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

Oh yea my typos are all over the place I'm surprised more people haven't mentioned it! -Thanks for t.. read more
This reads like a Charles De Lint story and for that I thank you! I love your style and wouldn't dare ask you to change it. This story makes us question what do we value? This is going on my shelf to read again, certainly!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 11 Years Ago


A.R. Elvira

11 Years Ago

I've never heard of Charles De Lint so I have to thank you for telling me about him I'll definitely .. read more

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Added on April 21, 2013
Last Updated on June 20, 2013
Tags: raven, magical realism, magic, animals, girl, short story, tale, asia, red, feather, short, fable, descriptive, dream
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A.R. Elvira
A.R. Elvira

Australia



About
ceaselessly, i return to the art in the written word, no matter where i have strayed. My name is A.R.Elvira. Sometimes I use Titania, because I like using Shakespeare's names, but call me what y.. more..

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A Chapter by A.R. Elvira



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