Type: Dialogue Exercise | Genre: Speculative Fiction | Date: April 27, 2022 | Author: Lala Jackson
“Did you ever see your Nephew again?” I ask her, trying to catch her downcast eyes.
She shakes her head. Just slightly, like she doesn’t want to commit to its answer. “I couldn’t,” she says.
“What stopped you?”
She doesn’t respond for a time, wandering about my bedroom, pausing at every trinket and keepsake I have littered across my bookshelves, looking but not taking them in. She finally stops and turns toward me, shoulders square, lips pursed.
“Shame,” she finally answers. “How could I have gone back? Told him that what I abandoned him for—what I abandoned all of them for—was fruitless?”
“It’s not your fault it didn’t work out,” I offer, but she instantly sucks her teeth.
“My mother, my aunt. They were snatched from our village. Stolen from our family. Taken away for their power because people were scared. It was a gift when I was returned. The people welcomed me back. My Sisters trained me up, ensured I knew how to Wield. And what did I do? Turned my back on them. Walked away,” she sweeps her arm across her body, flicking her hand at the end of its path. “They needed me and I acted as though it was nothing, as though my adventure, my wanting to see Elsewhere, was more important.”
I pause, considering. “Did they ask you to stay?”
She sighs, her shoulders rounding. “They never would have asked me that. All they wanted was my happiness.”
“How could people who only desired your happiness also have wanted your shame and loneliness?”
“That’s the bit that’s hardest,” she replies. “Their kindness only made me hate myself more. It was only once I left that I realized I spent 39 years doubting my place in my home, with the people who accepted me more than I ever realized,” she says, water welling in her eyes. “The shame? It’s not just from having abandoned them. It’s from having doubted them every moment that I was there. I did not deserve their kindness.” She raises her chin as though she dares me to say otherwise.
How hard it must be to be so heartbroken after hundreds of years, to never have been able to unload such regret. “Do you remember being brought back to the Village?”
The corners of her mouth twitch up slightly as she sinks onto my low bed, her skirts flowing about her and almost completely covering the black and white wool blanket I was gifted when I came of age.