“You’re so ugly, Melanie!” The boldest of the group shouted first. “Why aren’t you pretty like your sister Selenah?”
“Yeah! And how come you’ve got no magic?”
“Why’re you so boring?”
“No one likes you here!”
“Why’re you still living with this family? They don’t like you either!”
Each comment was followed by a small rock or pebble, aimed right at me. I sat there, staring at the earthen ground in front of me with my legs tucked into my chest, and let the jeering continue. I didn’t feel any bit sad or angry at what they said.
They’re telling the truth.
“Why aren’t you crying yet?”
“Yeah, cry! Cry! Cry! Cry!” They howled together.
I heard Selenah run down from the porch and the group of kids scattered, screaming to take cover from Selenah’s magical wrath.
Selenah stopped to stand next to me, huffing with her hands still clenching her skirt from having to run.
“How come you didn’t do anything against them? They were hurting you,” she said. I got up and looked down at her. I was always taller than she was.
“They didn’t hurt me.”
I walked back inside our wooden cottage and heard Selenah follow after me.
“But they threw rocks at you!” She called after me, “and look at all the dirt on your dress and the cuts on your arms!” I shrugged and walked over to open the cellar door.
With a grunt I pulled it open and walked down the steps with a candle in hand. Selenah didn’t follow me down here, ever. She was afraid of the dark and all the dusty stuff that collected on the floor.
I put the candle on the holder and began shifting through the mossy crates to find a book to read. Feeling the wind and the sunlight on my skin wasn’t very fun. Being down here was so much better.
I looked up, seeing Selenah in the doorway. She was holding onto the cellar door tightly.
“What is it now?”
“Can I sit with you?”
I turned away, thinking she wouldn’t have the guts to come in. But I heard her shuffle in slowly, and I turned back to look at her with raised eyebrows. Her blue eyes were darting to all the dark corners of the room and the floating spider webs.
She whispered something and the entire cellar became bright. The dust and the cobwebs disappeared and all the crates lost all their mold and moss. And candles floated along the walls.
I frowned. Selenah liked changing things with her magic all the time. I didn’t really like it. It never helped, not truly.
“When I grow up I’m gonna make everything perfect,” she said smiling. “I know I will.”
But I turned my back to her. Liar. The world would always want Selenah and no one would ever want me.
I remember that day. The day they came for Selenah. Father had given her a bow and a quiver full of arrows that glowed at her touch. Mother had given her a ruby amulet saying it had been a family heirloom she wished her to have. They had not given me anything, until I had asked them, which was a little more than disappointing.
But Father gave me a sword still in its scabbard and I thought of it as a treasure then, especially when I saw the look in his eyes when he had given it, almost as if he cared about me.
In all honesty, I had never liked my sister, Selenah. She had always been perfect in my parents’ eyes. She was beautiful, brave, strong, ambitious, and clever. She had magic running through her veins. I did not. I knew the Dark Mages —that was what Selenah called them— were after her and not me. For what fool would want the magic-less daughter of a blacksmith?
Selenah and I fled from our house the moment we heard the beating of the crows’ wings in the distance.
I remember being forced out of the cellar, upset that I could not take any of its treasured books with me.
Our mother and father, we knew, would not make it out alive; Selenah had foreseen it. Ever since the sixteenth festival of summer that celebrated our birth and every other child born in summer, she had continued to dream about it for days. Selenah had called it foreseeing death, but I never truly believed her until what her dream foretold really did come true.
From that moment on, I knew there was no place left for me if our parents were dead, and thus my journey shadowing Selenah began.