Introductory note: Blood Moon (I) appeared on an earlier edition of the Terra Two magazine – to read this first, click on the heading ‘It’s Written in the Stars’ and scroll down to Blood Moon, or enter https://yorkstjohnterratwo.com/portfolio/blood-moon-by-e-anne-dawson/ into your search engine.
My sister moved away as soon as she was old enough to be partnered. She didn’t choose a mate for love, or even compatibility. She chose the one that lived as far away as she could get. It seems like a million years ago now, or longer. I can barely remember her shape (bigger than us, as the eldest), the colour of her rage (blinding), the sound she’d make in the morning when she woke to the realisation that we were still there, in her space; two little sisters thriving in the radiance of their parents.
So it was that she left the moment The Council would allow it. She identified some potential matches further away, but the Elders were firm that she should stay within our system. She stomped about for a while, but as loud as her voice could get, she was still only a girl, and had to obey. Then she found him – Aarush, he was called – an only child, and see how his glow is reflected upon his mother, The Council pointed out? Do you see how her beauty grows in the warmth of his love? He will be a good provider, they pressed. And despite herself, she acknowledged that Aarush’s homestead would be a good place for her own children to thrive. Most notably, he was far enough away that she would never have to live in our shadows again.
She left in the early hours of the morning, while our parents slept, no goodbyes. There has been no communication, only stillness in the place of hostility.
Until recently, when, without a word of warning, she sent some of her children here to live in the warmth of our father, to thrive in the fecundity of our mother’s love. Our parents are thrilled, of course, putting on such a show. And Selene’s children are in awe of our little corner of the system, both strange and familiar to them; they recognise some familial resemblances, and test those against their knowledge base to determine what is friend and what is foe.
But they don’t realise that my other sister is foe. They look up at us in awe, how delightful that there are two of us, still living at home with a doting mother and father. Spinsters, others call us. Lazy is the term I use when I am feeling low, but I know it’s more than that. My twin is unpartnerable; slightly too small, prone towards unpredictability and an abundance of emotion. My parents had hoped to partner us together, but no one would take her, and I refused to leave her side. I’m the only one who can bring her back when she begins spinning out of control, the only one really who can keep us all together. I am the lynchpin in the gravitational forces of this family.
Cas doesn’t mean to be foe, doesn’t want to be foe, but her mind is simple and she loves too intensely. When Selene’s children arrived, she just wanted to play with them, to hold them and love them and mother them, because she will never be a real mother. Neither of us understood how her force, our combined forces, might impact Selene’s little children. How our love was unfamiliar, and its force might tear the life right out of them.
The metallic scent of blood and sweat hangs outside the room, surreal and foreboding in a moment of silence until the airlock doors slide open and the noise of chaos erupts.
Micah looks up from the edge of a birthing pool where he is massaging the back of a woman who makes a primal noise of power and pain.
“I thought you said there were three? I count…” I haven’t actually counted yet, do it quickly now, “…nine?”
“They just keep arriving. There’re more too, they’ve called on the comms, but we haven’t been able to get away. What’s going on?” He seems calm, but his voice is tight.
“Get AVA to wake all medical staff and send them here. I’ll start triaging. Elle?” I turn towards the other attendants, “we need to encourage calm. Adrenaline increases pain. Turn on the hollowall programming and circulate with the birthing brew. Make them take it, no exceptions. But do it nicely. Sian, I need you to check on all the remaining women in regen cycles. Take three nurses and knock on doors. And Micah,” I call over my shoulder, “wake the Commander too – we’re going to need more space.”
The lights in the medical bay lower, and the glowing panels transform into billowing tent walls. The far end of the room mimics open tent flaps, revealing a twilight forest surrounding a small pond in which is reflected a single moon. It is an image of Earth, rather than this new planet where the twinned moons are a constant reminder that we are so far from home.
E. Anne Dawson is a writer and mother interested in landscape and feminist birth narratives, and how the two can be explored through the lens of speculative fiction. She has an MA in Creative Writing from York St John University, and she has worked previously as writer, researcher and producer in film and documentary production in Canada. She is enrolled on a PhD in Creative Writing at York St John University.