I GLANCE UP AT MY CRYSTALS AS the last rays of the setting sun cause splotches of amber to dot the stone walls and ceiling. It is my favorite, yet saddest, time of day. I dread and cherish my next task in equal measure and linger at the window to relish the last bit of sun on the meadow.
Forcing myself to turn from the scene, I raise my wings. Light from the window shines through them, causing the room to glow with a slight green tinge.
Crossing to my doors and opening them wide, I scan my ceiling to savor the dimming light illuminating my prisms. I close and open my wings, rising into the air and exiting my room. Flying through the castle to my parents’ chambers, as I do every night, I alight in their study.
Mother sits in front of the fire, harp on her right, Father on her left. Seeing his chin dip, I approach Mother.
I kiss her cheek. “Mother, will you play for us, or shall I?”
She blinks, and I think I see the edges of her mouth turn up just a hair. Sitting on the hearth before her, I await a reply. Had I imagined a slight smile, or was it wishful thinking? Her gaze shifts to her lap.
“Perhaps you could play, Titania. Your mother loves hearing you.” Father stands and wraps his hands around her shoulders.
Mother’s eyes stay trained on the flames in front of her while I slide the stool to the harp and begin a tune. After years of lessons, I play well, but nothing like Mother used to. She could draw tears from a crowd with one pluck of a string. Father retakes his seat, and I note his furrowed brow. Laying a hand across the strings, I halt my song.
“Father, is something wrong? Surely, Mother will…” I swallow before uttering the same hope-filled words I repeat every night. She will be better when her mourning is over. One year per lost child seems appropriate. Several years have passed since my four brothers were slaughtered while fighting the kobold army. Three years since we have heard her voice or gotten more than a blink of her eyes in response to kisses; hugs; condolences; pleas; and sometimes, on my part, tear-filled rage at her inability to see I not only lost my brothers but my mother as well.
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