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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Family · #2227842
A dark story of sibling rivalry
(999 words)

“Don’t, Ewwy, I’m scawed!” whined Dory plaintively.

“Serves you right, Pest,” Ellen told her as she ran along the edge of the pond, waving her arms at the wall of cattails to drive more blackbirds into the air. “You know you’re not supposed to be down here. You better go home before the birds peck your eyes out!”

Ellen felt little but resentment for her younger sister. The Pest couldn’t even say her name right! She’d always been Ellen before Dory came, but everyone thought it was so cute when the baby called her Ewwy. It had stuck and now even Gran was doing it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ellen’s life had been perfect before the baby came. She’d been the youngest then, the special one who had come late in her mother's life. Everyone had paid attention to Ellen and played with her. Gran had called her spoiled, but smiled fondly when she said it

"I saved the best for last," Mama used to whisper into Ellen's ear as they cuddled in the old rocker.

There had been one brother, one sister, one daddy, and one mommy - perfect. And then everything changed when the new baby came and Mama went away. Michael had left for college that same year and Janet went two years later. Now Ellen had to mind a stern Gran instead of being spoiled by a doting mother. Now it was just her, a too-tired Gran, and a daddy who spent most of his time with the Pest.

“She was her Mama’s last gasp,” Daddy had told Gran that first sad week without Mama. They didn’t know that Ellen was listening from the top of the stairs. “She’s a goodbye present, that’s why I named her Dorothy, it means gift from God. I looked it up.” Daddy went quiet for a few seconds. “She’s my special little angel, and I’ve got to love her enough for two people.”

“Now Ned, don’t forget that you have three other children,” Gran had reminded him.

“Michael and Janet are near grown, they don’t need me much anymore. And Ellen is getting to be a big girl, she’ll understand.”

Ellen had understood him perfectly. She was no longer the special one.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The wheeling, shrilling cloud of blackbirds was getting to be kind of creepy. Ellen stopped and watched them uneasily for a few seconds. There were a lot this fall, gathering in unusually large numbers before heading south for the winter. Ellen began to feel a bit scared herself, but then a great idea popped into her head - she'd leave Dory behind and teach her a lesson!

“Come back, Ewwy, come back!”

“Have fun with the birds, Pest!” Ellen shouted as she sprinted back to the house, knowing full well that Dory couldn’t keep up. A hundred yards of gentle uphill slope separated the small wetland pond and the barn. Then it was over the fence and another thirty yards to the house. It would probably take Dory a good ten minutes to make her way back. If the blackbirds don't get her! Ellen grinned at the thought.

“Come back, Ewwy, come back!”

The panicky screams grew fainter as Ellen rounded the barn and faded out completely when she entered the house and closed the kitchen door.

“Did you take Dory down to that pond?” asked Gran, with a stern look at Ellen’s muddy shoes.

“No, I didn’t take her there,” Ellen replied. That wasn’t really a lie, the Pest hadn’t been invited.

“Well then, where is she?” Gran pressed.

“I don’t know,” Ellen shrugged and looked away. “I thought she was right behind me.” That was close enough to a lie that Gran began to worry.

“Alright, let’s go find her.”

“But I have to go to the bathroom!” Ellen objected, trying to delay the scolding that would come when Gran found Dory alone in the field. She was still hiding in the bathroom when Gran's shout came echoing through the open window.

“Ned, Ned come quick!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“It’s the damnedest thing I ever saw,” repeated Deputy Olerud dully. “Her face . . . why would they do that?” It was the third time he’d asked, directing his question to no one in particular.

The young man’s face was pale and Sheriff Johnson wondered if he might be going into shock. “I don’t know Dale. It’s like that Hitchcock movie with Tippi Hedren,” the Sheriff replied. “They never found out why either.” It brought no one comfort, but it was the only thought that came to mind.

The EMT shook his head grimly. He’d seen victims of farm machinery and knife fights, but this was somehow worse. She was such a pretty thing, he thought as he worked on the little girl.

No one actually saw it happen. All Gran could tell the Sheriff was that she had found Dory shrieking in pain with a cloud of angry blackbirds wheeling overhead.

"How do you know they were angry?" wondered the Sheriff, but Gran didn't answer.

“Where’s Elly?” Ned asked as he climbed into the ambulance. “Is she going to be OK? The silly girl seems to think this is her fault somehow.”

“Don’t you worry about Ellen, Ned. I’ll see to her. You just go along with Dory.” Gran didn’t think Ned could take the whole story right now, maybe not ever.

“I didn’t really want the birds to hurt Dory,” Ellen had sobbed when confronted by Gran. I was only teasing!” And that was so close to a lie that Gran still felt troubled.

What gets into a child’s mind? Gran wondered to herself. Why would she do that?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ellen saw a blackbird singing to her even when she closed her eyes at night. Even when she pushed her tear-streaked face deep into the pillow. Even in her fitful dreams.

“Come back, Ewwy, come back!”

The blackbird's shrill call sounded just like Dory. And Ellen continued to hear that plaintive call even with her hands pressed tight over her ears.

“Come back, Ewwy, come back!”

Author's note:
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