My name is Tristessa Rincressa Potenta Dellatiere. There is a father somewhere in my past, but he was not there long enough to assist in naming me. My mother's name is Umi and when she disappeared I was sent to a farm. Whenever I tell my story, some kind-meaning stranger asks me where the farm was. I can never answer them. Perhaps it was in Italia, where I am told I was born. Or Espagna. I only know that one moment I was living between the still stone bodies of houses bordered by cobblestone streets, and the next I was at the farm, pulling myself up out of the mud.
Mud can be soothing if you approach it in the right way, but this mud had children all around it, and they were taunting me. "She has evil in her eyes!" they were yelling. One of them threw a stone and it hit me just above my eyebrow. I looked up, blinking blood out of my eyelashes. "They are even blacker than a pit!" I tried to speak, but something caught the words in my throat and strangled them into silence. "Dirty eyes!"
Just then a plump woman with a soiled apron attached to her dress came bustling out of a house behind me. She was not the farmwife, but a servant or housekeeper of sorts. "Stop! Stop this now! Shoo! Away!" She fluttered her apron at the children and they ran away, squealing like pigs. "Tessa?" she whispered then. It was the first time anyone had called me that, and I did not know at first that she was talking to me.
"Tessa? You are bleeding!" she said. I looked up at her with my one blood-free eye. Vomit rose in my throat and somehow I kept it back.
"I don't know you," I said. "Who are you?"
The woman looked very sad all at once, but soon her face was wiped clean and replaced with a solid half-smile. "I am Ravigie. I care for you."
My head rolled backwards and the bile rose again. "I'm going to throw up on you, Ravigie," I said, choking. She grabbed my arms carefully and pulled me up so I was kneeling.
"I'll hold your hair," Ravigie said. My hair was already caked with mud and she really didn't have to hold it back. My stomach heaved and my entire body shuddered as my stomach emptied itself of the little amount of food that I had actually eaten an hour before. Ravigie rubbed my back with her fingertips and whispered soft shushing noises while I heaved and hurled and expelled.
Ten minutes later I was laying on my back in the dirt, wiping my mouth with a wet bit of rag that Ravigie had brought out from the kitchen. She grabbed a shovel from the side of the house and turned over the mud and dirt so that my pile of waste was covered out of sight.
It was only then that I cried a little, and it was the last time I would ever let myself cry for real.