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Finding the White Raven

Light that comes from the darkness

By Ian VincePublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
AI generated by KRAI.AI from author's prompt

Inspired by the The Sugar Cubes' Song "Birthday".

Breathe.

Sarah suddenly sat as rigid as tensioned wire, upright in her bed, her heart pounding, a scream lodged in her throat. The nightmare again. Always the same - a forest dark, a full moon, the portentous cackle of a raven echoing through the trees. And the overwhelming sense of being watched, hunted, pursued by unseen evil.

She glanced at the clock. 3 AM, like every other time the dream had wrenched her from sleep for the past year. She threw off the covers, shuffled to the bathroom and splashed water on her face, trying to shake the cold touch that clung to her like a shroud.

At the bathroom mirror, her unpitying reflection stared back in the fluorescent light – blonde hair mussed from tossing and turning, shadows like bruises under her bloodshot blue eyes. At 28, Sarah thought childish nighttime fears belonged behind her. Yet here she was, a lawyer rising through the ranks of her firm, having her sleep and sanity steadily stripped night after night by a stupid dream.

Crawling back into bed, Sarah willed herself to think of anything else. The Nichols merger she was working on. Her dinner plans with her boyfriend Mark this weekend. The trip to Hawaii she had booked for a much needed vacation next month. But as she drifted off, the caw of the raven echoed through her mind again, a mocking reminder that the nightmare was never far away.

Fighting back yawns first thing the next morning, Sarah struggled to focus as her team debated corporate structuring options for the Nichols acquisition. “Sarah, what do you think about a Section 368 triangular merger?” her boss Christine asked. Sarah blinked rapidly. “Um, could be a good fit, let me run some numbers,” she mumbled, hiding behind her coffee mug. Her boss shot her a concerned look but said nothing.

As the day wore on, Sarah began to obsessing over the symbolism and possible meanings of the raven in dreams. According to various dream interpretation websites, ravens could represent bad omens, lingering regrets, or a shadow self. But she had no idea what hers might be trying to tell her. Her life was going great recently - she was on track to make junior partner, her relationship with Mark was getting serious. What could she possibly have to feel haunted about?

That night, Sarah tossed and turned, dreading the moment sleep would take her back to the dark forest. When the nightmare did come, it was different this time. More vivid, more terrifying. The raven perched on a gnarled tree branch directly ahead of her, fixing her with a beady knowing stare. When it opened its beak, instead of a caw, a voice rasped: "You can't outrun the truth forever, Sarah..."

She sat bolt upright, the scream finally escaping her lips. Mark reached out groggily to comfort her. "Shh, it's okay babe, just a dream." But Sarah knew better. Except, it wasn't just a dream. It was a warning.

AI generated by KRAI.AI from author's prompt

Over the next week, as the nightmare continued to escalate, Sarah felt like she was losing her grip on reality. Lack of sleep made it impossible to concentrate at work. She snapped at Mark and avoided making plans with friends. She became paranoid that people could tell something was wrong with her, that she was unraveling.

Desperate, she made an appointment with a therapist who specialised in using dreamwork for personal growth.

“The raven seems to be urging you to confront something you've repressed,” Dr. Janssen said kindly. “Have you experienced any kind of trauma in your past that you've tried to bury and not deal with?”

Sarah shifted uncomfortably in her chair. She wasn't sure. It was so long ago, she had moved on. It couldn't still be affecting her. Could it?

That night, the nightmare reached a terrifying crescendo. In the dream, instead of watching from the trees, the raven flew directly at Sarah, sharp beak and talons extended. She turned to flee, but her legs wouldn't obey. The raven slammed into her chest and suddenly she was falling away into a void without limit.

Sarah woke with a start. Her chest ached where the raven had struck her. Gingerly, she touched the spot and froze. There, right above her heart, was a livid purple bruise in the exact shape of the bird's claw.

Hands shaking, she fumbled for her phone and rang Dr. Janssen’s emergency number. “I know what the dream is about,” she said, struggling to sound resolute. “I’m ready to remember.”

Curled up in the therapist’s chair the next day, the words spilled out of her in fits and starts. When she was fourteen, the youth pastor at her church – a man she looked up to and trusted – had abused her. For months she had endured it in confused, shameful silence, until he abruptly left the church. Sarah had buried the memories, forced herself to move forward as if it had never happened. Until now.

“The raven is you,” Dr. Janssen said gently. “The part of yourself that knows the truth and wants to heal, even though it’s painful. By repressing this trauma, you’ve kept a part of yourself locked away.”

In the weeks that followed, as she processed her long-buried pain with Dr. Janssen’s guidance, Sarah slowly felt the grip of the nightmare begin to loosen. The dream still came some nights, but its power to terrify her was fading. She started a survivor's support group, finding solace in shared stories and realising it hadn’t been her fault. She told Mark, who held her as she wept, assuring her this changed nothing between them.

AI generated by KRAI.AI from author's prompt

And then one night, the dream was different. Sarah stood in the moonlit forest, but she wasn’t afraid. The raven was there, watching her calmly. She approached it and reached out a hand. It hopped onto her arm, and she stroked its glossy black feathers. As she stroked the feathers they turned bright white. She understood. The raven wasn’t an enemy. It was a guardian. It forced her to see the truth so she could begin to heal. The white bird took wing and Sarah watched it fly up to merge with the moon. She knew it would never trouble her sleep again.

Waking peacefully the next morning to sunlight streaming into her bedroom and the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen, Sarah knew the raven’s call had been answered. She was free.

AI generated by KRAI.AI from author's prompt

familyShort StoryPsychological

About the Creator

Ian Vince

Erstwhile non-fiction author, ghost & freelance writer for others, finally submitting work that floats my own boat, does my own thing. I'll deal with it if you can.

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