The force that urges this thing inside of me into being threatens to pull me into the ground. I awake in terror: my blanket soaked, my mouth dry. This mirror, a supposed gift, and eventual curse, greets me as soon as I awake. I am terrified there will be a sign, a mark impossible to cover up. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.

There were happier days, of course. I remember my childhood well…. I remember the sky. I could tell which part of the forest I was in simply by breathing deeply. I knew this land better than I knew myself. But all of that changed when they arrived.

A strange smoke escapes from their tents.  An odd odor follows them. Their putrid speech fills their mouths and infects my ears. They forced me to dance for them, to show them how I could move. They took my sister and I haven’t seen her since.

The sky is shrinking as I grow. The forest is no longer my own. It has been a long time since I’ve heard my mother’s voice and my father has been reduced to a thin memory. I have an ache that follows me everywhere I go. My neck is stiff and strains to look anywhere but downward to dead brown grass.

He pulled me to his bed by my hair. My scream, cowered under his laughter; soon I bled. I was then forced out into the night without anything to keep me warm. I tried desperately to remove his smell from my lips with snow, growing even colder under a moon that did her best to hide from night’s terror.

All of this, long ago, and yet I am reminded every time I look down. I want to hide behind a blanket of stars like the moon did that night.

I don’t bleed now, though I wish for it. Sharp pains take me away from even the best of friends. I cower alone behind some tree if I manage to make it that far: fear, my constant company; dread, my closest ally. I wait to be discovered.

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