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Jasmyn Smilesby Doris Hernandez
When I was 4 I learned I had to hide my true self.
Playing out in the sun with the older twins, Lyria and Leric, copper strands of my hair started to gleam and mother, Fleura, called to me.
I turned, smiling, to look at herómy eyes had emerald glints. Mother took my pale hand and rushed me to her room, leaving my fair friends and maid behind.
Mother gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry and told me to always wear it and not to fret over how different it made me look, but that I could never let any of the village children see me without it.
She traced the delicate edges of my pointed ears with slender fingers and sighed softly since the Glamour didnít affect them. She covered them with my hair.
Then she took off her special necklace and I gasped, taking a small step back. She seemed to almost glow from within, her hair a gleaming deep copper and her eyes an almost impossibly brilliant dark green.
"Why. . . Does daddy know?"
She smiled as she put the necklace back on. It was as if the sun had hidden behind a cloud.
"Yes love, father knows and I hide because I love him. He loves his people . . . but they are not comfortable around those of my blood because we are different.
For his sake, and now to protect you, I hide. You must hide as well, though it will be hard.Ē
She hugged me close.
A year later my mother abandoned me.
My eyelashes fluttered apart when mother leaned over my bed and pressed soft lips to my cheek. As I noticed her tears my forehead wrinkled.
She raised the blanket under my chin, her soft hands cold and so very pale.
"I am sorry my love. . . The magic fails. I have to return to the Great Wood. It isnít Death, itísÖ a new birth day.
The twins will stay with you as long as they can. Be happy and smile for me."
I wanted to cry but only managed a single tear before sleep swept me under.
Smiles became rare . . . I never laid eyes on her again.
My father, Beonal, canít bear to look at me.
Even hidden as I am everyone remarks how much I resemble my mother. When she left us father became distant. I was either alone or with the twins and my maid, Wiloh.
All three told me stories of magic and maidens, of dragons, and of wondrous phoenix dreams of rebirth, and hope even after despair.
With hope I played the fair maiden and created a wreath of bright little flowers.
Running to my father as he arrived from work, I tiptoed as he bent down and placed the wreath on his head. It immediately slipped off. He caught it and for a moment smiled, then he looked at me and I saw the light dim in eyes as he silently returned the wreath to me.
I pray to be invisible for him.
Two years later I lost another part of me.
I ran to the hidden garden to meet the twins. There was something different about them but I didn't care. I loved the freedom of being my true self around them, though we were careful not to be seen by others.
I found them arguing. I didn't understand their words. . .
"Leric, can't you wait?! There's no guarantee that the lands to the West have more magic! You can't really mean to leave right now!"
Lyria paced, her long reddish-gold hair swirling around her, a jewel forever sparkling on her brow.
Leric shook his tawny head. "You should know better than that Lyria. Come with me! It is almost time to change and you know it's far too soon! We might not make it back at all if we stay here!"
Leric took Lyria's hands in his. "Please don't take the risk."
Lyria looked from his golden eyes to my teary ones and sighed.
"You know that if we go West we may never be able to return here, to her. . . ." Lyria nodded to me. I felt as if my feet had taken root.
Leric turned, startled, his cloak whipping around.
"Oh Jasmyn. . . ."
Suddenly he pulled me to him, fiercely hugging then he let me go, turning to Lyria.
She shook her head and he nodded. He held her close a moment.
Then he turned and walked away.
The day after my 8th birthday I walked into Lyriaís room and lost hope.
I found Lyria shivering in her bed, crying.
"I'm sorry Jasmyn. . . I. . . I can't hold on any longer, I have to leave you."
I kneeled, stunned, the smile dying from my face.
"I will always be with youÖ Jasmyn, whatever you find in this room after I'm gone, please keep it safe."
I stood up abruptly, hands clenched into fists.
"It's not fair! It's not fair!!Ē
Lyria closed her golden eyes a moment.
I ran out of the room.
When I returned she was gone.
On her bed was a beautiful vase.
I carried it carefully to my room and settled it on my desk before peeking in.
I was left with ashes.
My father rid himself of me.
At the age of 12 he sent me to the Temple across the lake.
"You will learn what you need to know there, and this house is too lonely for a young woman."
He spoke the truth but not all of it. I knew I still haunted him, his personal ghost.
I didn't protest. I packed, carefully stowing the vase in my luggage. The carriage arrived and after wordlessly hugging my father I left.
I never looked back.
I am surrounded by many but I am alone.
The quiet of the Temple, the daily chores and lessons are soothing, but there are no reasons to smile.
Six years later I noticed the vase was shaking.
I held my breath as a pale warm light shone from it. I grabbed the vase and ran outside, seeking the nearby forest. I didn't want anyone to see. . . I wasn't sure what exactly. I put the vase down at the foot of an ancient tree and the light grew stronger. A small winged form burst out and I gasped as it landed in my hands.
I could feel its pain, it was struggling to exist, the light flickering as its dreams started to fade and a tear escaped me because I feared it wouldn't survive its birth day.
But I felt it draw something from me and the light grew brighter.
I raised my hands, studying it, the jewel on its forehead sparkling and sudden understanding flowed through me. I finally smiled as the creature turned her golden eyes to me.
I will no longer be alone.
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