Through a character's eyes

by Frances Moritz

A New Life

The first nine years of Alessandra's life were wonderful. For as long as she could remember, she and her mother, Lacina, had traveled from village to village, treating the sick, healing the wounds of the farmers, the hunters-- anybody who needed their help. In payment, they received food, a place to stay, and occasionally some money or jewels. Their needs were light; the money and jewels were only used where their work was not valued.

Then tragedy struck. Disease ravaged the area, spreading from village to village. Nothing her mother or the other healers did could quell the disease; they could merely ease the pain of the dying. Children were more susceptible than adults; the healers watched in anguish as half of the next generation died.

The villagers then turned on the healers, blaming them for the unchecked deaths. The lucky ones were merely cast out of their homes; others were attacked, some killed. Lacina, with no village to call home, was attacked while Alessandra watched. Beaten and unable to defend herself, Lacina was tied to a stake, a fire set below her. She called out to her daughter to flee, afraid that the villagers would turn on her. This drew the villagers' attention to Alessandra and they turned towards her, the young assistant who had been spared any effects of the disease.

Then Alessandra exalted. She ignored the attacks of the villagers, merely disarming one for his dagger. She walked into the fire that was beginning to consume her mother, cut her loose, and carried her out of the flames. The villagers fled in terror as a dove shone brighter and brighter above her.

She carried her mother to a nearby cave where she had played with the villagers' children in better times. On instinct, she reached out to her, knowing she could heal the wounds the villagers and the fire had caused. As her mother awoke, Alessandra placed herself in a meditative trance to heal her own wounds.

Lacina awoke to the glow over Alessandra and realized with horror that her daughter was anathema. She blamed Alessandra for the disease that had caused their strife, and she blamed herself for giving birth to a monster. Unable to injure Alessandra, who was locked in her meditative trance, she stumbled outside and hung herself from a nearby tree.

When Alessandra came out of her trance, she looked around the cave for her mother, then searched outside. The shock of finding her mother's body sent her staggering into the nearby forest, where she wandered aimlessly for a week before seeking out civilization.

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