“Raven,” Arin asked, “You told me when we first met that you were the only one of your kind. Surely there must be other ravens in the world. Wouldn’t your parents at least have been ravens?”
“Not at all,” he said, head cocked. “My parents weren’t Ravens any more than yours are Arins. As to there being others in the world, I’ve never met anyone else named Raven, though I suppose it is a possibility.”
Arin furrowed her brow in confusion. “Wait… Raven is your name? I thought you were saying it was what you are, not… oh dear.” She blushed furiously.
“Wait, if you thought I was telling you my species, why did you always refer to me as Raven anyway?”
Arin’s blush deepened. “Well, I just never really thought about it, I guess. I’m sorry, I…” She groaned. “I’m an idiot.”
“Maybe a little,” Raven laughed, and upon seeing her increased discomfort, he laughed harder. After a few moments, Arin began chuckling at herself as well.
When they had both caught their breath, Arin frowned a bit. “But, wait, the day you told me your name, it was in response to my asking what kind of bird you are.”
“Ah… well,” Raven said, seeming a bit troubled, “I suppose Raven is both who I am and what I am. I wasn’t lying to you, I truly haven’t ever met anyone else like me. Not even my parents. You see, I wasn’t always…”. He glanced at Arin, who was gazing at him curiously, which was how she looked at just about everything, but even so, it was enough to keep him from saying more.
Fluttering his wings a bit, he said, “Well, Arin, you can congratulate yourself on being the first person in your village to discover a new species of bird we can call ravens. While they may not be the most abundantly found, I must say they are far more attractive than that species of worms that you discovered living in the crevice against the cliffs.”
Arin grinned and allowed herself to be distracted by the turn in conversation, though not before running her finger across the knowledge feather she had for Raven. “What, you didn’t care for the sanguine glow worms?” she teased.
Raven shuddered, his feathers ruffling. “No. Absolutely not. Nothing that’s covered in razor-sharp spines that drip ooze the color of blood should be allowed to have eyes that glow in the dark.”
Arin laughed. “Well, not every species can have the good fortune of being as handsome as ravens.”
One day, when Raven arrived in the valley, he brought bad news with him.
“Arin, I have to go away for some time,” he said. “I won’t be able to come back until next week tomorrow, maybe later.”
Arin’s face fell. “Oh. Okay.” She looked from where she was sitting to where he perched, eyes filled with worry. “But you will come back then right?”
“You have my word,” he said. “There are just a few things I have to take care of, but as soon as I’m done, I’ll be able to visit you like I have been.”
“Alright,” she said, “I guess that won’t be too bad.”
“I should think it would be a bit nice for you. You haven’t really spent much time with anyone from your village since I’ve started visiting you. Now you’ll have a chance to catch up with some of your friends. In fact, I’ve been a bit selfish keeping you all to myself this whole time, maybe I should shorten my visits when I come back, or…”
Arin was staring intently at the dirt in front of her feet. This is, admittedly, not uncommon behavior for her, as Arin tends to find dirt vastly fascinating, but this time Raven could see that she wasn’t looking there because something had caught her interest. Concerned, he flew from his branch and onto the ground in front of where she sat. She didn’t look up at him.
“Hey,” Raven said, “you’ll barely know I’m gone. And if you don’t want me to shorten my visits, maybe you could introduce me to your friends instead.”
“I…” Arin began, speaking softly. “I don’t really have any friends, other than you.”
“What?” Raven said indignantly. “Whyever not? You’re nice, funny, and extraordinarily intelligent.”
“That last thing is the problem. My eyes were focused the day I was born, I said my first whole sentence when I was just eleven months old, and by the time I was four I knew more than most of the adults in the village.” As she spoke, wisps of air that almost looked like feathers stirred around her, brushing against her arms and cheeks without stirring any of the grass or leaves around her. “If it had been just one of those things, maybe things would be different. But with all of them together…”
She drew her knees closer to her chest. “They say I’m fairy-touched. That I’m unnatural. All the adults seem to hate me, and nobody who’s my age wants to talk to me. Mostly they just stare, but sometimes they’ll call me names or throw things at me. And my parents… I think they wish I could just be normal.
“It’s okay, though,” Arin said, her hand absently stroking one of the feathers that she imagined —and that Raven could see— nearby. “I’ve always had the things I know and the things there are to learn to keep me company. And now I have you.” She lifted her head to look Raven in his dark eyes.
“You promise you’ll come back, right?”
He fluttered up from the ground to her shoulder. “I promise,” Raven said, giving a strand of her hair an affectionate tug.
She smiled, and they sat together in silence for a while.
“I wish I could go with you,” Arin sighed.
“You can, as soon as you have your own wings,” Raven said, nudging her playfully.
She smiled. “I’d like that.”
Author Notes: This isn't quite where I wanted to end this part, but I've hit a bit of writer's block, so this is all I've got. My main concerns are that I've been changing the tone too much as I've been writing, and that I'm not doing a very good job of making an interesting story. I'd be grateful for any insights anyone chooses to share on either of those things, or anything else about the story thus far.