A Lesson In Lies

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Seated in the middle of a bench with her feet tucked underneath and her hands in her lap, seven-year old Saffron stared at a partly-eaten piece of buttered toast.

"Saf."

She tensed upon hearing her nickname and squeezed the fabric of her walnut-brown pinafore until her knuckles whitened. Raising her head, Saffron peeked through strands of mud-colored hair that had escaped from her braid and met Mother's leaf-green eyes. They sat opposite each other on one end of a long, banquet table that could have fit ten. Morning sunlight from the door left one half of Mother darker than the other.

"Tell me what happened last night."

Saffron opened her mouth, letting out an exhale. Mother's heart-shaped face was full of warmth and understanding, so much that for a moment Saffron could almost believe it was real. That Mother meant it. Then Mother's gazes shifted to Saffron's forehead.

Bowing her head, tears blurred Saffron's vision. The bread became a blob of golden brown on a metal plate.

That's right, she thought. Mother hates my ugly eyes. She hates me.

"Saf, what is going on? You're acting so strange. It's scary." A tear slid down Saffron's cheek and plopped onto the top of her right hand. Saffron quickly wiped it away with the sleeve of her cream-colored shirt, but more fell, one after another as Mother continued, "Was it last night? Did you hear a demon?"

Saffron's breathe caught.

"Is that it? I've warned what can happen if their voices reach you. Maybe we need more than just wool in our ears at night. Maybe we n—"

"It wasn't a demon!" Saffron flinched at the loudness of her own voice, shocked as her words echoed around the cavernous chamber where the other elves had once held village meetings and ceremonies. Now only she and Mother lived here amid the ruin and decay.

A heavy silence fell between them as the echo faded.

Saffron swallowed hard. She felt dizzy and sick. She wished she had her dolls, but Mother never allowed them at the table.

"Then what was it?"

It was you! Saffron wanted to cry. You tried to kill me! How could you!

"You scared me to death. I've never seen you shriek and thrash like that. What kind of nightmare does that?"

Your nightmares. Saffron bottled the words deep inside. Mother knew nothing.

To Saffron's horror Mother stood up, the bench squeaking as Mother's legs pushed it back, and rounded the table to sit beside Saffron with her legs outward. Mother reached over as if to touch Saffron who braced herself, squeezing her eyes shut. The darkness would flow from Mother's touch as it always did and Saffron would once more see the bitter rage hiding behind Mother's kindly smile. Saffron was cursed to know such things.

"Are you afraid me?" Mother sounded hurt.

Saffron opened her eyes, surprised to see Mother had placed her hand on the edge of the table in front of Saffron instead. She knew her behavior was hurting Mother and herself, but she could not stop.

Are you afraid me, Mama? Saffron wanted to ask. Are my eyes so horrible?

Saffron would have to tell Mother everything, and then Mother would surely hate her. More tears trickled down her cheeks, slipping off the bottom of her chin. A small hiccup escaped from her chest from the force of holding it in.

Mother said nothing, as if waiting for Saffron to break the silence.

I can't tell her, Saffron thought. She knew that. She had hinted at it before and knew from that moment on that Mother feared Saffron. She feared that Saffron was a monster. And Saffron feared that maybe Mother was right.

Saffron did not know how she did it, only that she could do something that Mother could not. That she could know Mother's true feelings through touch and she could relive Mother's memories through her dreams. It had to be magic. Saffron's magic. Or her curse.

And last night Saffron saw something she wished she could forget.

Why did you want to kill me? Saffron wanted to ask, but then she would have to admit to Mother she was a monster. That she had been spying on Mother's memories. She only dreamed of memories that were of Saffron. She had seen herself through Mother's eyes — a tall, waif-thin child with an oval face and ears pointed at the tops and large, round eyes that were so dark that pupil and iris blended. Even to her they were eerie, like dark holes in the whites of her eyes. She also knew that Mother deliberately kept her gaze on Saffron's forehead to avoid looking at them directly.

Ugly eyes that Mother secretly despised.

"Mama," Saffron said, looking up at her Mother. She forced her lips into a smile even though her heart was breaking. "I'm fine." She lied. "Really, I am. Please don't worry anymore. I'll be a good girl."

And she was until her thirteenth birthday.

(UPDATE: The story is being re-written in third person and the character's name was changed to Saffron

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(UPDATE: The story is being re-written in third person and the character's name was changed to Saffron. The next chapters are the same, but they have not been updated yet.)

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