The wind blew tendrils of Aleta’s hair around her face as she closed her eyes, breathing in the clean ocean air. She took a step closer to the water, feeling the waves begin to wash over her toes. Aleta loved this place; the breeze, the waves, the wind. This was where her father always took her, before that day. Before the sadness and grief came, before the darkness entered her heart, before her mother stopped talking to her.
She picked up the music box her father had given her on her 4th birthday, right before he had left for Angia. Angia was a terrible place, a place of war and death. But her father had gone anyway, giving his life for the sake of freedom. A tear escaped and dripped off her nose; three more followed. She had been crying a lot lately, but she tried not to. She hated to cry. Her father would want her to stay strong.
She wiped the tears away and opened the music box, concentrating hard on the spell. Her father had made it special for her, binding it with a spell only she and her father knew. The hana—a magical symbol on the front of the box—lit up with a bright pink-tinged light. The top slowly opened and a sweet, tinkling melody began to play. Inside the box was a little dancing figure, with Aleta’s exact features. It danced and waved at her. The box contained various keepsakes and mementos from her family, including a picture of her parents standing together, her mother caressing a pregnant belly. She stared at the photo, the last photo of her father after her mother’s rampage. She sighed and hummed along to the music, closing her eyes.
Suddenly she jolted, and the music box snapped shut. She opened her eyes. Her mother was gripping her arm, dragging her out of the room.
“Mommy? What’s wrong?” she asked.
Her mother didn’t answer, but picked up a suitcase, heading for the door of her aunt’s house. Her Aunt Ade stepped in front of the door just as her mother reached for the handle.
“Sarelle. Think about what you’re doing. I know this is hard on you, but the child—” Aunt Ade began, her eyes pleading.
Sarelle pushed her out of the way. “Magic brings nothing but pain. I will not have my daughter brought up in this world,” said Sarelle, and she opened the door, slamming it shut behind her.
Aleta opened her eyes. She must have fallen asleep; the last thing she could remember was her mom putting her in a car. The room was dark, with only a few rays of sunlight leaking in through a pair of large, heavy curtains. She blinked and got up.
“Mommy?” she called, walking toward a door and opening it.
It was a bathroom, with a small sink, toilet, and even a bathtub; the shower curtain was closed. She reached slowly for the curtain, a terrible feeling washing over her. She pulled it aside; and screamed. It was her mother, eyes staring vacantly at the far wall.
“M-mom…?” she whispered.
Suddenly her mother made a gasping noise. Aleta leaped backwards.
“Aleta…come…closer…” Sarelle gasped out, her words choked with pain.
Aleta crept tentatively towards her mother. Sarelle reached out a shaking hand, touching Aleta’s temple lightly with her fingertips; Aleta flinched slightly. Instantly, a warmth spread from Aleta’s scalp, all through her body. Her legs gave out and she sunk to the floor. Then, just as suddenly as it had come, the warmth left her.
A door crashed in the distance, voices yelled, but she barely heard. Feeling dizzy, she looked up as a man stomped into the room. He saw her mother and walked to her, checking her pulse.
“Dead...” he muttered, pulling out his cell phone. He dialed a number, then looked to Aleta. “Little girl, is this your mother? What happened here?” he asked her.
She stared up at him blankly.
“I-I don’t remember.”