Lyra said this day would come. Isis said every sister must go at sixteen.
|“Carina, Bianca is outside!” I leapt out of bed, I would be late for the teachings and that was not something you did twice. That couldn't happen. Blearily, I threw my top over my head, sliding into it and ruffling my hair. I could hear my mother cursing, “Carina, you must leave now!” My mother was shouting at me from across the hall. I hopped about my room as I tried to jump into my trousers tying them at the waist. “I'm coming!” I rolled my eyes and grabbed my bag, a small brown leather carrier that could lay at the waist.
“Ophelia it is tomorrow” My mother was whispering in the kitchen. I was stood at the doorway and could see my sister catch my eye. Ophelia shrugged her shoulders, tilting her head towards me. I heard footsteps then the door pulled away from me. I could see Ophelia looking at me sheepishly behind my mother and I felt my ears pinken. “I'm going! Bye!” I smiled at my mother as she looked at me strangely, with a look I hadn't seen before; it made me feel funny.
As I opened the front door I saw my cousin Bianca outside in the sun. “Carina you need to be on time today!” Bianca giggled, as I looked at her confused; thinking that it would be best to be on time everyday.
“Why was your mum round so early?” I asked her, Ophelia was my sister, my mothers twin sister so naturally my sister too.
“Who knows, you know they're joined at the hip” Bianca replied not meeting my eyes.
It was true, they were twins. A rarity. A specialty. Unique. Anais and Ophelia Grace. I am Carina Grace, my cousin is Bianca Grace and she is one year younger than I. She can be a little gnat at times but I'd protect her forever.
We walked down the dirt path as quickly as possible, a large hut coming into sight as we passed my home, and the various apple trees surrounding it. A lantern was lit at the entrance of the hut and Bianca groaned. “See what you've done” I shook my head, it wasn't fair, mum had been up talking with me about the teachings it wasn't my fault.
“Let's just get this over with.” I pulled Bianca along, walking faster towards the hut, I could hear a voice but couldn't make out what was being said. I walked in trying my utmost to slide in between two sisters. They were childish. Eleven and twelve year olds named Dabria and Sarea. Their hands immediately shot up as I pulled Bianca in line with them facing Lyra.
“Yes?” Lyra asked in a monotone voice, covered in a white hooded cloak, with only her face and hands visible.
“Carina and Bianca have arrived” Dabria and Sarea said simultaneously in an acidic sugary voice that hurt your ears.
I looked down at the floor, feeling Lyra's eyes staring at me. “Carina Grace” She stated, and I turned to meet her face unable to look into her eyes. Lyra was a fearsome creature, terrifying and disciplined, expecting her pupils to be just the same.
I did not say anything as she stared, not speaking for a moment, my breathing quickened. “It is your birthday tomorrow” Lyra smiled, and that feeling I had earlier with my mother returned. I frowned and looked at Bianca as she returned my look.
“Yes Lyra” Lyra blinked at me and then stood up. The class stood too, all twenty sisters. This was not something that happened normally. Lyra turned, her back revealing a pattern upon her cloak. I had never seen this symbol before. A cross with a triangle at each end pointing inwards with a 'C' curving round what looked like a nail straight through the cross, a circle at the side of the 'C'. It was mysterious. Lyra never turned her back to us, none of us had ever seen that before. The room was silent, a couple of sisters looked at each other and I'm sure we all had the same look upon our faces but none of us spoke a word.
“Carina, Maia, Zephira, Irina you may stay. Everyone else, leave.” Silently the sisters followed the demand, until all that were left were myself and the three other sisters. Bianca was the last to go, looking at me as if I would never see her again.
“It is time for you to have one last teaching” Lyra stated, finally turning back to face us holding a worn leather book, engraved with the same strange symbol. None of us said a word, but each of us gave away our nervousness. Shuffled feet, and swallowing nervously as my arms folded.
Lyra returned to her seat placing the book in front of her. I waited with baited breath as I realised it was my final teaching. What could that possibly mean? I knew my mother no longer had teachings, but that was because she had myself to care for like so many others. Lyra interrupted my thoughts.
“Isis left one last teaching to us” I blinked, Isis was our leader, our head, she gave us laws to abide and kept us safe. Without her we would not have order, security, health.
“It fell upon us to save people. Brothers grew ignorant of the knowledge sisters held. Their physical strength surpassing ours but our minds, our wit surpassing theirs. Without teachers, Brothers could not understand what Sisters knew and this caused the uprising. Sisters overpowered Brothers. Brothers were powerless against the strong. We are united. But we are weak. We survive with Brothers.”
We all had one question. Irina spoke first. “Brothers? How do we survive with Brothers?” I gulped, this was a terrifying question. Brothers were strange beings. Hardly seen and never heard. You were unfortunate to come across a Brother. They lived in our hospitals, working under the Sisters of the Hospital. They had a tough job, and they were strong sisters. I had seen a Brother once, I was eight years old and I had broken my arm trying to climb a tree. This Brother held my hand, while my mother stared at him with a look I recognise now as disgust. He bandaged my arm and told me that it would get better. He made me feel better. However, I did not know how we needed Brother to survive, was that was Lyra meant? Brothers were needed for us to survive if we were hurt?
“Irina, do you know how you came onto Earth?” Lyra spoke quietly, and we frowned, that was a strange question.
Irina bit her lip, “My mother gave birth” It seemed like an obvious answer, so why was Lyra asking such a simple question.
“How come you do not have any sisters at home?” Lyra was speaking of Irinas empty house, it was just herself and her mother, no elder sisters to speak of. Her mother was an only child, it was unheard of in society. Irina was quite the oddball.
“My mother she-” Lyra interruped Irinas timid reply.
“I meant a sister your age, not a cousin, a sister” Lyra grew impatient, as Irina grew more confused.
“My mother decided that she only wanted one daughter?” Lyra nodded.
“Irina she was told. You mothers were all told. This is the law of Isis” Lyra stated looked each of us in the eye in turn. I didn't understand. Fortunately, Lyra elaborated.
“It is no coincidence that you are the same age, that your mothers are the same age. At eighteen years old there is the Leave. The Leave is the time that you have to go to the Sanctuary, and you meet with Brothers.”
That was terrifying, why would we have to meet with Brothers?
“Lyra I do not understand. What is Sanctuary?” Maia asked, she lived just next door to me, and we had grown up playing in each others houses; our mothers spoke often.
“Sanctuary is where you were born. Sanctuary is where you will go with Brothers when you are eighteen” I frowned, Lyra wasn't making any sense. Mother had never told me this. She could have told me this last night. She just said that my birthday would be special this year.
“Brothers are needed for daughters to come into the world” Lyra sighed, that was awful. No Brother would have such an encounter with a Sister. There was a reason for the uprising. Brothers were immature brutes that did not know how to run the world. They were run by leaders, by Sisters. Sisters would not have such a weakness.
I felt tears begin to gather at the corners of my eyes, this was impossible.
“I was not born in Sanctuary!” The sisters turned to me, as my voice gave way to emotion. I refused to believe it.
Lyra shook her head, “Carina, you were born there just like the rest of your sisters. Sisters have given birth to Brothers too.” There was a sudden gasp from each of us.
Lyra was not who I thought she was. She was a liar. She was scaring us. She was no teacher.
That was a foul myth, extinguished by Isis herself. “What of Isis' words? 'Brothers came into existence in the night. Hidden from sight. Sisters did not know of their beginnings?' What of that?” My voice was loud, my temper growing.
“Who were these sisters to do such foul things?” Zephira finally decided to speak up, ignoring my question.
Lyra looked at each of us in turn and quietly she said, “Your mothers.” I looked at the sisters either side of me, this was shameful. Brothers. That was not a word that was normally heard in civilised conversation.
Lyra would be in trouble.