By @S F Brooke
“Mom! Keo is poking me!” called one boy’s voice, high pitched at the end into a whine.
“No! Koa is poking me!” another boy’s shrill call came.
A series of skin against skin slaps came from the back of the car. The twin seven-year-old boys yelled at each other from their booster seats.
Mona, AKA Mom, thumped her head repeatedly against the steering wheel of her parked car. “You can’t run away! You can’t run away!” she mumbled under her breath. Sighing, she grabbed her backpack and got out of the car. “Okay, boys, time to stop fighting. Day one of our mother and sons’ getaway is going swimmingly.” Getting both boys out of the car and loaded up with camping gear was as easy as herding cats, but she managed to have two little hands in hers as they walked towards the campgrounds. The three of them set up their small blue tent, Mona instructing them to place the poles in certain spots and settling their sleeping bags inside.
“Mom, can we eat s’mores for dinner?” Koa asked, soft brown eyes looking up at his mother.
Mona hummed, “Maybe, kiddo, but you gotta eat something more than just sweets for dinner.”
“Yeah, Koa! All you eat is sweets,” Keo taunted, sticking his tongue out at his identical brother.
“Shut up, Keo!” Koa shouted back, tone hurt.
Mona interjected, grabbing Keo’s hand that was about to take a swing at his offender. “Hey! That is not okay! Both of you need to stop — you’ve been fighting all day!” she scolded, making both the boys look down shamefully. “You guys are brothers, not enemies.” Both twins grumbled, olive-colored cheeks pinking with embarrassment. Mona took in a breath and went outside the tent, making sure her sons followed her. “Come on. I want to show you boys something.”
“Are we going hiking?” Keo groaned, body wilting.
“Keo,” Mona warned, raising an eyebrow.
The little boy settled down and let his mother lead him into the woods that surrounded their campsite. The boys found sticks to play with and whack one another on the back of the legs with as Mona took them further into the woods. When they reached a clearing Mona took a seat on the dew-filled grass and patted two spots on the grass. Her twins took their seats next to her, leaning against her sides as they relaxed.
“Mom, what are we doing?” Koa asked softly after a few moments of silence.
Mona said nothing except to point at the nearly setting sun.
“Whoa! It’s so orange!” Keo gushed, eyes bright as he looked at the sunset.
“Do you boys see the moon over there on the other side of the sky?” Mona asked, tilting her sons’ heads over to it with her hands. “Did you know that the Sun and Moon have different names?”
“Their names aren’t Sun and Moon?” Koa interjected, face confused.
Mona settled down on her back against the grass, her black and pink parka soaking up the wetness from the ground. The boys followed suit. “I’m going to tell you guys a story, one I learned a long time ago. I think you’ll like it, but you can’t fight,” she crisscrossed her hands for the twins to shake. “Deal?”
The boys shook her hands firmly, cuddling up to her side as they all stared into the sky, the colors getting darker as the sun set further down. Crickets chirped as their methodical and hypnotic violin playing made for background noise. The wind shook the leaves and took Mona’s voice into the town below the clearing.
“Once upon a time, a time almost from the very beginning, there were two brothers. Their names were Red Hawk and White Bear. They were as different from one another as night and day.” Mona rubbed her hands through her boys’ dark hair, her voice soothing as she told her lesson in a story. “Now these two boys used to be the best of friends — doing everything together from the moment they could walk. That was until they grew older and they realized their strengths and used them against each other. Red Hawk was fiery and fierce — his personality was like burning flames, destroying everything in his way. Red Hawk was a favorite in the village as he was strong and agile. His brother, White Bear, however, was quiet. His personality burned like frostbite — cold, deadly, and silent, but just as fierce. White Bear was smart, only showing his true self once a month to the people of his village. He liked his secrecy.”
Keo and Koa were listening intently to their mother, eyes big and thoughtful as they took in her words.
“One day,” Mona continued, “their mother, Blue Sea, grew tired of the constant fighting between her sons. The boys used to love each other deeply, now there was only animosity and hate. She was deeply saddened by her sons’ ways and she wanted to fix them. So, she sent them on a quest. Blue Sea told them that if they reached the summit of the greatest and tallest mountain in the valley without turning on one another they would have a great reward, but…” Mona paused for a dramatic effect at her captive audience. “If they could not, they would have a consequence so great that they would break their mother’s heart.”
“What happened?” Koa whispered, voice hushed as he looked at his mother. “Did they do it?”
“Shh, Koa, I wanna hear the story!” Keo told his twin, voice not quite friendly but not quite harsh either.
“Ah ah ah, what did I say?” Mona questioned rhetorically, “No. Fighting.”
The twins apologized and went quiet again, eagerly waiting to hear the end of the story.
Mona cleared her throat and continued, “Together the two boys left their village and traveled to the highest mountain they could find. The two worked together to reach the top, both silent to avoid fighting with one another and breaking their mother’s heart. Red Hawk went wild and tore through the mountain to get to the top, every rock crumbling beneath his heat. White Bear went smoothly, calculating every step and every place for his hands to climb. They made it to the top of the mountain and suddenly all there was the sky. Bright, blinding, blue sky. All they can see was the sky, surrounding them like a warm and playful hug. Red Hawk wanted it all for himself, the blue catching his eye like a sapphire in the sunlight. White Bear wanted it as well, knowing that if he brought just a little of it back to the others he could take his brother’s place as the favorite in the village. The brothers turned on one another. They fought vehemently — fire and ice. Night and day clashed making the ground shake beneath them.” Mona shook her boys unexpectedly, making both of them startle. “They were making the blue sky go black with their anger when suddenly there was a crack of lightning so strong it scorched the mountain and made it go flat, sending both boys into the sky they wanted so badly. Red Hawk burned brightly in one part of the sky; White Bear shined in another. Knowing what had happened, Blue Sea wept, her heart was breaking into a million teardrops as she cried for her children. She cried so much that she made all of the oceans, lakes, and rivers on Earth with her tears. Blue Sea had made it so if her children couldn’t be with one another, they would be separated between the skies forever. Red Hawk would be in the sky in the day and White Bear would be in the sky at night. They had fought so strongly that they were never together again. Only when they were both in the sky at the same time could they see each other. It took for them to be separated from each other to realize that they once again loved one another.”
Mona was quiet as she let her voice trail off, letting her sons take in her story and understand it.
Keo sat up, running his hands through the blades of grass. “Red Hawk and White Bear…they became the Sun and the Moon?” He looked at his brother — his twin brother. “They got separated forever because they fought so much?”
Koa’s eyes welled up and he hugged his twin fiercely across their mother, squishing her in the middle. “I don’t want to lose you, Keo!” he bawled, gripping his brother’s shirt.
“I’m sorry too, Koa. I don’t want to lose you either,” Keo cried, just as distraught over the thought of losing his brother like the ones in the story.
Mona hugged her kids tightly, kissing their foreheads. “Do you think the both of you can stop fighting for a while?” she smiled, knowing that the boys understood her lesson.
Both the boys nodded and sniffled, squeezing each other as they looked up at the night sky, seeing White Bear shine down his benevolent white light onto the three of them.
“Okay, how about we get some nice s’mores for dinner and some hot tea?” Mona suggested, getting up and watching as the two boys cuddled closer to each other. Their arms were wrapped around one another’s waists even as they walked back towards the tent, chatting quietly. Mona smiled as she walked behind her twins, looking back and winking up at the sky. Red Hawk and White Bear may have divided, but they had managed to save another set of brothers — Mona’s.
When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.