Ah! It’s hurting! Please don’t hurt us mother!” Said by me and my sister Mary. It happens in one summer night. Our step-mother Martha tortures us every night. I get hurt when she beats my sister. But I can’t do anything. I too get beatings from her if I ask anything about her behavior. She always scolds us by saying the “Adopted orphans”. We don’t know why she scolds us like that. But I can remember the day which was a twist in our life. It was a pleasant day with a cold breeze that blows around. I was eight years old and my sister was four years. We both were dressed grand. I saw my father who was standing far away from us and he was busy in conversation with an anonymous person. Our mother feels satisfied in our happiness. She won’t come down because the god won’t allow her to stay in this world. Yes, my mother died when my sister born. My sister hadn’t the mother’s love. My mother’s last words are,

“Take care of your sister. Whatever the critical situation

You face you have to take care of her. I’m always there

for you”.

I still can hear her words. According to her words I am taking care of my sister all the time. My father always takes care of us. He lived his life only for us. He always calls us “the princesses of Mountain woods”. I don’t know why he calls us like that. Like our mother he feels happy in our happiness. He never tried to make my sister cry neither me. But I don’t know why he stood far away from us. He even dressed in suits. Beside him there was an anonymous person who dressed white gown. Her dress looked gorgeous but not her in frank. In that occasion all our relatives, our father’s friends and colleagues came there. I don’t know why, because, I was a little girl. I and my sister played with the kids who came there for the function. There the people who were in focus of my father who was the public figure. I thought he was a super-hero who achieved something so the public gathered here for appreciating him. With that josh I and my sister shouted in glee with the people. As we were children, our tummies started to sing a song in hunger. At that time we smelled a cake. That smell took us where the cake was. It was a large cake that I have ever seen. The one who stood with us said,

“It is a rare flavored cake. It is costly. It tastes the mixture of chocolate and Vennila. It has a topping of roasted almond and some fresh plumps. If you bite it you can’t find the cake in it. It melts as soon as you bite. Its specialty is, it is completely made up of fresh cream and ice-cream”.

As he describes it our mouth started watering. We can’t control our self because the cake was five layered. If we take one layer, definitely it never affects anyone. So I and my sister tried to take the cake from the table, unfortunately it fell down. At that time my father came there with that anonymous person. She looked us brutally. From then we lost our loveable father. Instead he turned into a brutal one. After her arrival our life turned dark. We never saw any happiness and my little sister felt only sadness not any kind of happiness. From then we forgot to wear new clothes, going to school, spending time with our papa. All we remember is to work for our step mother. One fine evening I and my sister got a baby sister. Her name was Cassendra. She was so cute. But now she grew as cruel as her mother. One day our father called her “the princess of his world”. We heard it by standing behind the wall. We remembered the words he called us, “the princesses of Mountain woods”. Cassendra asked papa that what’s there in Mountain woods. Papa replied, “Once it was a beautiful place where the people lived a peaceful life. They sing a song, dance in glee and more important that each citizen of the woods know to handle sword, bow and arrow. They won’t take any training at all. It was incorporated in their blood!! If they tent to see any weapons, their blood starts to transmit this skill throughout their body.”

Cassendra asked, “Do they exist now papa!?”

Our papa replied, “No dear! They all are vanished. Some says that they vacated their place some said they all are hunted by the giant creature which killed everyone”.

Then he proceeded to say, “But some believe that few people survived in that battle between the mass and the giant creature, they moved to the village past the Mountain woods”.

There came our step-mother who pushed us. We fell on the mud. My poor little sister got injured. She cried terribly. She begged her not to beat but my step-mother beat her wontedly. My papa saw that but didn’t say anything to her. I don’t know why he behaved like that. Then I begged her to pardon my sister. Then she left her and started to beat me. I can control the pain but my sister can’t because she is too young to bare it. Then I decide to save my sister from this horrible lady. While I am thinking I remembered my father’s words said to Cassendra that the citizens of Mountain woods might live past it. There rolls something in my mind, “Now I want to take my sister there. But How? There’s a giant creature lives in that Mountain woods. Anyways it may not be too horrible than our step-mother”. I took my sister Mary to the Mountain woods in one fine silent sleepy night. Everyone of our home slept with pleasant dreams. But I had a dream of getting out my sister from that terrible woman. So we started our journey to the village, past the Mountain woods. It took few days to reach the mountain woods but we reached it. I remembered my mother’s words, “Take care of your sister…..” I assured my sister that not to get afraid of anything. Then I proceeded to say, “I am there to protect you from all the dangers. Don’t worry you are my sister. I will save you from the creature”. Then my sister got some betterment from her fear. I brought her some food and prepared a tent for her to take rest. I did all this because she’s my princess of mountain woods!

In the mean time, I prepared a bow and some arrows from the sticks which are sharp enough to hurt the creature. Then we proceeded to move. But we didn’t find any creature but we find the place where the villagers stay. There we found a couple who were worried about their children. We moved towards them and made acquaintance of them and they made us. Then I asked the reason for their sorrow. They said that they lost their child in the battle few years ago. From then they were searching for her but they didn’t find her. They were in sorrow because it was her birthday. Mary said to them that it was her sister’s birthday too. By listening to this they felt very glad to celebrate mine as their daughter’s. I accepted for it. I allowed my sister to cut my birthday cake because she never tasted the cake after that incident. Then the couple asked the reason for our arrival. I said to them about our past sufferings. They rise with anger and gathered the villagers and started to do revolt against our family. But we refused it and said them that we like to lead a peaceful life here. They let us to live with them. We lead a peaceful life until our step-mother and father arrived there. They approached us and said in anger that their daughter Cassendra was taken by that creature and it was because of us. All the villagers gathered around us. The couples reached us. As soon as they saw our father they both started to speak in confusion, “YOU!?” the couples asked our father, “Where is our daughter?” our father replied, “Here she is”. He said that by pointing me! I was quite confused but then I came to know that I am the adopted child from the mountain woods. The one who grew me was the thief who stole me from my actual parents. But I was not clear about my sister’s suffering. Then my real father explained that Mary wasn’t my own sister. She was the daughter of the adopted mother. She also was the citizen of the villagers. My adopted father loved her and married her. Their child was Mary. My adopted mother loved me a lot. So she gave all her blessings to me. Then she died after giving birth to Mary. When I came to know the truth, my so called step-mother started to yell at me. She said that because of me they lost their daughter Cassendra. So then I said that I will save your daughter from that creature. Along with me there came my sister. We reached the creature with the pack of information about the way of killing the creature. Until then everyone thought that a girl daughter of the queen and sacrifices her life for the sake of other soul’s song will be able to kill the creature. The villagers believed that the girl was Mary because she was the daughter of queen. Yes her mother was the queen of the village who fell in love with Mary’s father. So I went to guard my sister. We both alone went there to kill the creature. We found the creature. We reached there in right time because it was about to eat our sister Cassendra. Mary approached it with sword and she fought against it by singing a song. It was in vain. We don’t know why it didn’t work anymore. Then Mary asked me to sing. I refused it because I am not the daughter of queen. But Mary explained me that her mother treated me as her own daughter though I wasn’t her own. So I was ought to be the first daughter of her mother. Hoping Mary’s words I started to sing a song,

“Go away in a long way,

Don’t reach us at any cause

Have a great cruelty pause

Go away in a long way”

The creature died and there came an angel out of it. He said, “I was cursed by the god because of my mistake. So he punished me to be in mountain woods until a girl who was a child of queen and honest and the one who dedicated her life to the other soul. That was you who saved me from this curse. Thank you!” I asked him to release our sister Cassendra. He then gave her to us. We were about to leave at that time he asked my name. I answered him, “My name is………….”

“SOPHIE! SOPHIE! Wake up it’s time to go to school. Wake up!” Mary said to me.

“What? Is that a dream? Oh my god! That was awesome!!!!” I said.

After few years my sister Mary found an orphanage named “SOPHIE THE QUEEN OF MOUNTAIN WOODS” (orphanage). There our parents adopted a girl child named “Cassendra”.


This is an entry for the event #BreakFree, ArtoonsInn’s signature Short Story Writing event, #ArTales-16.
Check out event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/break-free-artales-16-open-event/

Check out Swetha’s space here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/author/swetha-jayagopal/


Photo by Ana Francisconi





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Swetha Jayagopal
Swetha Jayagopal is a second year UG residing in Tamil Nadu, India.
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