A Lovely and Unexpected Visit

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A Lovely and Unexpected Visit

“You did what!?”

Her mother opened the door far enough to glance up and down the cobbled street before grabbing Sharna’s Yellow robe and hauling her inside.

“Did you walk the whole way here in that garb? What were you thinking? Oh ships! The neighbors. Your brother will be humiliated. Maybe if you apologize? Surely, Mistress Nora understands you’re at a delicate age. They’ll have to take you back. You have talent!” She pulled at her carefully braided hair, and wisps broke free to uncurl at her neck.

Sharna looked like her mother. They both had warm sepia skin and lush curves, but Sharna preferred her hair soft and natural. Her mother’s braids reminded her of how the two of them were different. They were both worriers, but while Sharna sat and chewed on her thoughts, her mother shared hers compulsively.

“Momma, calm down. It’ll be fine. How about tea?”

She’d walked the whole way home in her Yellow, and it had been a lesson. That freedom she’d been feeling evaporated like morning fog as everyone stared and pointed. They weren’t laughing at her, but they were intensely curious about a Yellow Mage outside of the Mansion grounds. At first, she’d cringed away from the attention, but after half an hour, she stood straighter and lifted her chin. She’d realized she was something special to these non-magic folk. She was only measured as a failure against the other Mages. Out here, she was a symbol.

Her mother stared at her, speechless for a moment, before turning on her heel toward the kitchen. “Your father is at work. You’ll need to be gone before he gets home.”

Sharna felt like the floor had tilted. “Wait. What? What do you mean gone? This is my home!”

“No,” she took the hot kettle and poured over two cups. “It’s not. Your home is the Mansion until you are finished your studies. You can’t come to hide under my skirts just because it’s hard. Life is hard.” She put the kettle back on the stove-top with a loud bang, and Sharna jumped.

“Look around you, Sharna.” She swept her hand around the kitchen. “We barely make ends meet. You think your father likes his job? You think he likes working until his bones bend so we can have this…this mediocrity?” She frowned. “Having our daughter selected for the Mansion was more than an honor, you know. That monthly payment made it possible for your brother to get the position with the Mayor’s staff. If he hadn’t done that, he’d be just like your father – toiling away for the bread and rent.”

Sharna’s face was hot, and she wanted to pick something up and throw it. Her parents didn’t care about her. This was about getting money to push her brother into the spotlight! She took a deep breath and tried not to cry.

“Don’t you dare cry!” Her mother pointed a spoon at her. “You will finish your tea, I will thank you for the lovely and unexpected visit, and you will haul your ungrateful ass back to the Mansion and grovel.”

The rest of the visit was exactly as her mother described. She choked down the lemon tea, whispered a brief goodbye, and then found herself standing on the porch with her bag in hand.

(See you all next week! Thanks for stopping by to read.)

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