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TITLE: The Promise of the Sky
By Caitlynn Lowe

Once, there lived a young girl who often looked up at the sky and dreamed. During the day, she whispered her secret hopes to the clouds, and listened to the wind as it carried back reassurances. At night, she asked the stars if she would ever shine so brightly, and they winked at her in response. Daily, the sky beckoned to her, and daily she would gaze at it in wonder and excitement, for it seemed to her at that time that all the world was open to her, and that even the sky itself was not out of reach.

Time passed, and the girl grew; instead of a young girl, she was now a young lady of passion and wisdom. Yet she never grew weary of watching the sky, nor did she ever forget the dreams it inspired. Wise yet foolish, she still believed in the promises contained within the heavens above her. Still believed, still wished, and still moved forward.

There were those, however, who mocked the young lady. They belittled her for hanging on to such childish fantasies, and they scoffed as they saw her staring off into the infinite blue. She simply ignored their remarks as best she could and continued to fix her mind on the hopes set before her. But the brightness that shone in her eyes was too strong, and it sparked a jealous rage in those who did not share in her innocent enthusiasm. Their jeering soon became worse as they tried harder and more fervently to drag down her spirits. It finally became so bad that she was forced to hide away; still, she continued to dream in secret, for she held the promises of her youth close to her heart.

One fateful day, as the young lady carried on secretly inside a hidden clearing of the forest, she was spotted by a raven that lived there. This was no ordinary raven, however, for he had supernatural powers and could speak. Filled with ill-intent, he flew over to her and asked, “Lady, why do you hide yourself among the trees of the forest?”

Startled, the young lady turned a wary eye towards the raven. Finally, she replied, “Oh Raven, I hide here to dream in secret, because I can no longer do so publicly.”

“And what is it that you dream of, Lady?” he asked in a devious tone, inching closer. “Perhaps I can fix your situation, for I am a powerful creature and am capable of a great many things.”

“There is nothing you could fix for me, Raven, for I have heard of your kind and know your tricks. You would grant me my deepest desires only to bring about my destruction.” She then turned gleaming eyes before the sky again, adding, “Moreover, there is nothing that I want other than that joy which has long been promised to me from above.”

The raven cawed and flapped about at the young lady in response. “Fool! You dare reject me? There is nothing for you in the openness of the sky. It has all been a dream, and one day you shall awake from it, wishing you had taken me up on my offer.”

The young lady, eyes still on the sky, replied only, “Depart. Your trickery won’t work here.”

Furious, the raven cawed once more before flying above her and perching on the nearest branch. “Insolent being! I shall teach you to cross me. You trust in promises; I shall fill you with doubt. You dream of openness; I shall lock you away. You choose to hide safely from others; I shall force you to be seen by all without ever knowing the joy of being with them.” At those words, the raven grew into a monstrous creature a dozen times his size and blackened the skies with his ominous wings. The young lady froze in terror before falling unconscious.

When she awoke, she found herself encased in a glass prison just within sight of civilization. It circled all around her, preventing escape. She looked up, and much to her dismay, saw a screen of dense wire high above her blocking out the sky. Trapped and frightened, she banged on the glass walls with all her might, hoping to draw the attention of one of the far off villagers. Few noticed, and those that did only gawked at her for a moment before continuing on.

“It is of no use.” The voice of the raven. “None of them will come to your rescue, for I have marked this prison as cursed, and they are aware of it. They may come as close as they wish, but they are not allowed to interfere; any one of them who attempts to break this glass will inevitably destroy both themselves and you.”

At that, the voice disappeared, and the lady was left to weep alone in her prison for all the world to see.

Night fell, and the young lady cried herself into a light sleep. At the darkest hour, one lone star managed to peak down into the prison, and taking pity upon her situation, uttered one final promise from the sky to her sleeping figure:

“Take heart, young being, for the dreams you dreamed have not been forgotten, and the promises once made to you shall not be broken. You will not wither away in your glass prison. At eventide, the clouds and the wind will renew your body that you might not die in such condition. At night, the stars will fill your heart with sweet melodies that you might not go mad from the loneliness of the deafening silence. And at dawn, the sun shall raise your spirits, that you may never lose hope. Sleep well, young one, and continue to dream, for someday you shall be free again.”

Morning came, and the lady awoke—despair still clinging to her eyelashes, yet hope shining in her eyes once more.
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