When I was a child, my father used to call me his 'little water sprite' such was my love of water. Ponds, streams, rivers, fountains, the sea - I was enthralled by them all. I have always been able to calm myself by immersing myself in water; bathing, swimming, even just paddling if nothing else is possible. We were blessed in this regard, rivers flowed through the Woods and the coast was never far away. Father used to gather us all up and take us to the coast as often as he could - we were all confident and capable swimmers from a young age but he was always willing to swim, for hours at a time, it seemed, with me hanging onto his broad shoulders as if I was weightless. He would plough effortlessly through the sea, droplets of water glistening on his dark hair and catching in his beard. On the rare occasions I felt fear, when the shoreline receded a little too far for my liking, he would comfort me and ask what harm could possibly befall his little sprite? I swam better than mermaids, he told me, and the shore was always closer than it appeared to be, why, if I held on tightly we would feel the sand under our feet again in no time, and sure enough, we would soon hear my sibling calling and see them waving to us.
Father, everytime I venture to the shore here I scan the horizon just in case the last few years have all been a mistake, a terrible nightmare. I squint my eyes, praying that I will catch a glimpse of your dark head bobbing above the waves, your powerful arms and shoulders cleaving through the water. I know this will never happen, that you, along with most of our kind, died in a futile battle to defend our lands and homes from the Scourge. But I have had no body to mourn nor no grave to tend, how else am I supposed to remember you? I hear your voice in the waves, I see shadows moving in the depths of the ocean and I remember you. How could you have left us Father, how could you have left me? If it was not for the kindness of your extended kin I would remain with Mother, as the rest of my siblings do. They have been unable to see through her, choosing to believe her wicked lies, her selfishness, her greed, her cravings.
That I look so much like her haunts me, each and every time I catch my reflection. Mother dearest whose features I inherited; nose, mouth, chin and cheekbones all identical. The same black hair, with silvered tints. I keep mine tied up, not for me the vanity of having my hair cascading down my back, I leave that all to her. Why do I not look like you Father? I would much rather be broad and sturdy like you are, like you were. It is some cruel trick of nature that I resemble the person I despise the most? A constant reminder of what I could become? How much did you know Father? Did you know of her cravings, her addiction? Did you acknowledge this, did you try to help, or did you look the other way, leaving her to indulge herself discreetly? My siblings have told me, at length, that she did not suffer these cravings when you were with us, that this is her way of coping with the trauma, the loss of her beloved husband. I know this to be untrue. I remember her being short tempered when I was a child, I remember her eyes glittering unnaturally, that she seemed to be a different person sometimes, unpredictable in her manner. I remember being told to mind the others whilst she attended to unspecified business. With hindsight and maturity I am able to see this business for what it was, she was going to indulge herself and her craving wasn't she?
When it became clear that I had magical aptitude she was overjoyed. She would have unlimited access to powerful magical essence. Her own daughter, Father. Her flesh and blood. She would have kept me a virtual prisoner, Father, so she could indulge herself at a whim. If it had not been for the kindness of your cousin's family I would have had no choice, Father. No choice. Naofa's mother took me in when I fled to her. She made me welcome and did not judge me. She has never pressed me for an explanation, Father. You realise what this means? The whole family knows, Father. They know of your wife and her disgusting addiction, her disregard and distain for anything other than the pursuit and consuming of essence. I owe them a great debt, Father. One that I fear I shall never be able to repay. And the guilt, Father. The guilt I feel for leaving my siblings to manage her, I have tried my hardest to persuade them, to remove the scales from their eyes so they can see the reality, not just the image she wants them to see but they refuse. Eventually, they told me to choose, and if I did not choose her then I did not choose my dearest kin. I could not do it Father, even for them. I could not accept that my life, my talents, all that I could give my kin, my people should be handed to her on a golden platter. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, Father. So I stand on the shore, far from another soul, and I vent my fury and my frustration into the air, letting the breeze carry the sounds far over the sea. And when I can scream no more I sit on the rocks and listening to the waves lapping and try to imagine that you can hear me, Father, and that somehow you will be able to guide me.