Where ever you go just always remember
That you got a home for now and forever
And if you get low just call me whenever
This is my oath to you
All I can remember… is eutheia; the adrenaline running and crackling like lightning through my veins and the scent of alcohol mixed with sweat and perfume. I remember the beat of the pop music we were singing along to and the way my body swayed and the blurring and flashing lights like an oil painting. I remember the lights most of all, burning and bright and leading me to the end of the tunnel. I may remember the lights most, but I swear that I can still hear my friend’s scream next to me best. I can still smell blood mixed with shrapnel, and then, just light.
Part of me doesn’t want to remember.
When I opened my eyes again, I can still see light. Only now it’s less of a blurry glow and more of glittery shards. When I look closer, I can see its from a ray in the window, shining down on both me and the women holding me panting like a sacred, holy blessing. I suppose the light is right, I always knew I was a miracle. The women clutches me tighter, like I truly was some sacred being, like I was ready to take flight at a moment.
“Azt… I finally...get to meet you… my beautiful… my beautiful little Aztlinthia…”
The woman, as it turns out, was my mother. A frail and petite young wisp who looked like she would be knocked down with just a breath. She was however, kind, way too kind to be living in this rundown shack in the middle of nowhere, constantly jumpy and fearful and always checking over her shoulder. She had pale brown hair, and sad, worndown features. I reckon that she was beautiful once, and in her sleep, when her brows unfurrow and her jaw isn’t tense, she looks, pleasant; less tired and less broken down. I constantly wonder who it was, that caused her to whimper and cower at the slightest sound, who stomped her down into this husk of a woman.
But I don’t ask, and she doesn’t say.
Still, we live. We live happily and we live pleasantly and we live in our little garden in the forest, like druids thriving off the land. We live. We live, until those guards come. We live, until she goes sick. We live, until she closes her eyes. We live, until she doesn’t open them up. We live, until we don’t.
My father, it turned out, was the Emperor. I wasn’t scared of him. I wasn’t scared of him when his men dragged me away from home, into his palace. I wasn’t scared of him when I was forced to kneel at his feet. I wasn’t scared when I looked into his eyes. (I realised why my mother hated looking into mine). I wasn’t scared when he glared at me like some sort of malevolent deity.
I wasn’t scared. But I wanted him to be scared of me.
My name is Aztlinthia. I was five-years-old when my mother died. I was five-years-old when my father ordered it. I was five-years-old when I became the daughter of the emperor.