A while back, I saw a prompt about seeing a rainbow at sunset and I was immediately intrigued by the concept. As is usually the case, whenever I see the word rainbow, I think of Iris, the Greek Titaness, and goddess of rainbows.
In the mythos, both the real one and the one within my universe, Iris had a sister. Not much is known about her sister, with the world favoring Iris. During the Titanomachy, the war between the Olympians and the Titans, Iris sided with the Olympians while her sister sided with the Titans. In the beginning, the sisters acted as messengers for their respective sides. As the war progressed, they found themselves fighting more and more, inevitably clashing with each other.
I could go on, but that's a story I have planned for another day. So, without further ado:
The Second Rainbow
I wandered down the muddy road beneath the yellow leaves of the aspens that looked like bits of sunlight captured by the thin, pale branches. There, the trees held onto that light, clinging to the final bits of summer before winter finally lulled them into their long sleep.
That nap drew nearer and nearer, as evident by the misting of rain falling from swirling dark clouds. The water turned the ground beneath my feet dark and slimy. Still, I trudged on down the path that none would dare take now. Just like winter fast approached, so too did the night, but I had somewhere I needed to be. Neither inclement weather nor foul terrain would keep me from her.
The two of us had not spoken in such a long time. The fault was entirely my own, and we both knew that. That’s why I had to make an effort now. So much had changed since we last spoke.
If I kept following the road, it would lead me to town, but she would not be there. Not in this weather. Not at this time of day.
I turned off the road at the hunting trail and began my climb up the mountainside. Even in the mud, the straight and level road proved to be the simpler path to follow. Here, nature closed in around me on this faint passageway through the forest. I wove in and among the underbrush. Dislodged droplets of water dripped into puddles at my feet.
Save for a pair of rabbits who rushed for cover and a deer that darted away when it saw me, I was alone. The world itself acted as my only companion, as it had for many years. The return to seclusion from people felt strange, but not unfamiliar. I’d spent lifetimes in isolation, and it welcomed me back as an old friend, one whose company I’d rather not share anymore. Over the last year, I’d finally found peace and happiness with others and did not want to lose that again. Perhaps that was why I was doing this after so much time. I wanted to make amends. At long last, I believed it was possible despite the odds.
The trail grew steeper and rockier the further I went. Oftentimes, my boots scraped against the slick surface, threatening to send me to my hands and knees. Sometimes I caught myself before the fall. Other times, I wasn’t so lucky. My hands became raw and my knees ached, but I only ever hesitated for a breath. With effort, I always managed to find better footing to keep moving forward. With each step, my determination grew. No matter how slow my progress, I knew I would make it to my goal.
I had to.
By the time I reached the top of the cliff, the misting of rain let up and the setting sun broke through the clouds above the sea. It set the sky ablaze in reds and oranges and the turbulent waters reflected those colors, amplifying them.
I could see home, the town, and far out across the sea. The sight took my breath away, and yet I turned my back to the glory of the setting sun. It wasn’t what I’d come here for.
I turned, and there she was. A stunning rainbow arched over the valley from which I came, and just beneath it, there was the second one. It was faded from lack of use, but in my heart, I knew my sister’s spirit still lingered on in that radiance.
With an aching heart, I studied that fading second rainbow. Took in all of its dim colors, committed them to memory. To me, they were beautiful.
Far too often, people compared the two rainbows to one another. They’d claim that the first rainbow somehow held superiority over its younger sister. As the eldest, that was often the role I found myself placed in, but I never believed that. I knew in my heart that my sister had just as much beauty to give as I did. We were the same, her and I, and yet when the world crumbled around us, those similarities vanished. As our childhood gave way to adulthood and all of its struggles, all we could see were the differences.
Those differences drove us apart.
In the end, we were at each other’s throats. Two sisters fighting against one another. If only I knew then why we were really fighting, maybe I could have fixed things. Instead, I found out in those final moments, when it was too late to mend what had been broken beyond repair.
No force in the world could rewrite Death.
I wished I could take it all back so that we could be sitting here together watching the sunset over my new home. I would gladly let her be the first rainbow if it meant I could have my sister by my side once again.
“I love you, Arke.”