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Mira lay staring at the ceiling of her room, bored out of her mind and her bright, lily-pad green eyes wandering. Her room was only really a barn, and she lay covered in straw and itching from it. The walls were maroon, crooked and most of them looked like they were about to give way. If you looked at the roof, there are probably more holes on there than hairs on your own head. It was slanted and splintered and scratched. Mira stood up. She brushed down her light grey robe and flicked her curly black and purple hair and let it sway gently by her waist.

The colour of her hair had always been a mystery to her. Ever since she was born, it had curled and grown in both of these strange colours - and to the Sarmendians’ disgust, Mira rather liked it. Once, much to Mira’s disapproval, Old Ma Ying (the kind, elderly lady Mira borrowed a barn from) had tried to bleach it, supposedly to help Mira ‘blend in’, but the next day, her hair was right back to its dark, gothic colours. It was as if the four hours of bleaching had never happened. She fastened her shiny black boots and strode out of the barn and into the light of the pallid blue sun.

The only sound was the scratching of the thick heels of her shoes on the gravel path. The small wooden huts were full of silent sleepers, and the breeze was only a light touch on her flushed, pale skin. Her eyes flitted up to the glittering blue river in the distance, and she decided that was where she was going.

She stopped by the bank and sat down. She took of her shoes and dangled her dainty feet in the water. It felt so nice as the water caressed around her. Without thinking twice, she dived in and soaked her dress and hair. Mira could hold her breath for quite a time longer than a normal person. Once, when she was much littler, she was playing hide and seek with Old Ma Ying in the village. There was plenty of panic when she could find her, and Old Ma got the whole town looking. At last, the friendly baker Mr Fryer found her three feet deep under the water in the river, but she must have been under for over an hour. It was quite extraordinary.

Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap.

Mira lifted her face above the water and looked to the nearest wooden house next to the river. She noticed that one of the silk curtains had been drawn in one of the upstairs windows, and saw Old Ma Ying lightly rapping her knuckles against the glass. I smiled at her and waved. She waved back and then disappeared into the darkness of the room behind her. I pulled myself out of the fresh water and clambered onto the bank. As quickly as I'd gotten wet, I had dried. My hair was springy and my robe was flowing around me. I was used to this by now, but the first few times I had been startled being dry so suddenly. Standing up, I heard the small creak of a door sliding open.

"Morning, Mrs. Ying." I smiled at her as she waved me over.

She rolled her eyes, "Up early again, Mira? Come on. Let's get the chores started." She handed me a basket filled with flour bags and yeast. People were pouring out of their houses now, blocking the streets as Mira tried to get through. She huffed and threw the basket over her shoulders. She ran round to the back off the house and spotted the rack that Old Ma Ying used to hang her garments on. She leapt up and grasped it without a second's thought, climbing on top of it. Her head tilted as she leapt again, this time for the railing of the balcony. She successfully grabbed it, and flung backwards onto the roof.

It's much clearer up here, she smiled, proud of herself. She ran along the rooftops with the wind in her hair, before leaping down in front of the bakery.

"Thanks Mira."

"Pleasure, Mr. Calson." She said as she heaved the basket off of her shoulders.

"Fetch my son for me, will you? I want him to help you run your errands." He gave me crooked grin. Mira puffed and walked past Mr. Calson into the hut behind him. She very well new that he was trying to hook his son Mason up with her, now that she was approaching the age of sixteen. The time she could marry. His son was a year older than her and was always asking her how many days until her birthday. It was very clear he was on this scheme too.

"Mason!" Mira yelled.

I heard rummaging then the boy with the sandy-coloured hair skidded to a halt, "Back so soon, Mira?" she rolled her eyes and groaned.

"Your dad wants you to help me run errands."

He smirks, "Don't act like you don't want it too."

"Uggh, just get over here and grab one of the cloth barrels." he pouts and then walks over to the stack of barrels. He struggles to lift one and she tries very hard not to laugh. Mira, however, picks two up effortlessly. "We're going to the dry-cleaners. Try to keep up." She runs off ahead towards Old Ma Ying's.

Mira comes to a halt outside Mrs. Ying's house.

"Left Mason behind again?" she smirks, laughing.

"Umm hmm..." she drifts off, throwing down the barrels.

"Give him a chance. I know you don't want to marry but you'll have to settle down soon." Mira hated that everyone wanted her to marry him. "Anyway," Ying said handing her a stack of planks, "Take this to the woodworkers' would you?"

It was not uncommon for people to say there was something a little strange about Mira. The little notice Mira put to this was quite remarkable, but there was always something lagging at the back of her mind. Something that told her she was different, and made her feel rather peculiar. For one was her hair - but there were other things as well, things so weird and unexplainable that if you even tried to explain them, you would never be believed. She was only fifteen, and she always knew she was a little strange, but the Sarmendians - for she lived amongst clan Sarmendo - all knew it. Mira had never believed half a word of it until the day she turned sixteen, when the strangest things began to happen.

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