Raya Alternate Ending

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An unobstructed, bright gold sun glared down the backside of Raya. She sat in her back yard drawing clouds in the dirt with the tip of her father’s bowie knife. She hadn’t meant to take it, didn’t plan on hurting herself with it, or anyone else for that matter, but it looked nice and shiny lying on her father’s dresser, and today, she needed something like that, wanted something that gleamed against the white rust that threatened to ruin everything in the world. If she could cut it away like a soured friendship, she would.
“Raya, your thoughts are not clear,” she heard her mother scorn. Her mother was dead, but she still spoke to her, a voice in the back of her mind. “Your father will stand beside himself if he doesn’t take a layer off …show more content…

Perhaps out of fear that she would fade from her thoughts, Raya talked to her everyday. Kept her alive. She hadn’t anticipated a response, but more often than not, she knew what her mother would say, and so she would hear it in that soft, stern voice of hers.
“I know, I know,” Raya muttered.
A darkling beetle skittered past her foot, clumsy legs seemingly to tall for its stout body. Raya poised the knife over the beetle, then skewered it with the blade. Its legs kept twitching. She supposed she needed to kill something today too. Her father’s voice (not dead, and very much alive) popped into her thoughts, “If you’re gonna kill it, you should eat it too.”
But darkling beetles fed on the white rust, so eating the beetle would be like eating the rust. It might then start growing inside her—it grew every where else, why not her …show more content…

It tumbled onto its backside, legs now curled up and went still, strangely more proportionate in death. She continued sculpting clouds in the dirt. Having never seen an actual cloud, she drew them according to her mother’s pictures and stories. One she made fluffy, a circular lattice of hearts, another strung thin and wispy like a tangle web, and on her current attempt, she gave up halfway on a mushroom-shaped ball, kicked dirt over the top of it, and stabbed the knife into the earth as deep as it would go. The tip of the blade clicked against something beneath.
“Raya, please,” her mother would have said. “Stop this nonsense. Go back inside and put your father’s knife away. Hurry, he’s probably on his way home now.”
Her mother was right, her father probably was on his way home, but what lie underneath the rock engrossed her more. She dug excitedly, scratching yaw marks into the ground with the blade. She scraped around a small rock until she could lift it up. Underneath, she found a seed pod. “Mother, I’ve found another one.”
She dusted dirt from its shell and cupped it in her palm as though it were a faerie. It was shaped like a pine cone with tiny red seeds inside. “It’s a large one, maybe a tree of some sort, like Magnolia or a

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