Be sure to look at Part 1, or, if you'd like to start with a mystery, read how Meli and Tristessa first meet in the "Twelve" series. -m.
Ravigie did her best to protect me from the neighborhood children, and it worked well for about three months. But nothing the old housekeeper could do would stand up against an entire village deciding to hate a young girl. I had dark eyes, yes, but to this superstitious clump of adobe huts and withered farmhands, they were the eyes of the devil.
It didn't help that the day before I arrived was the last day it ever rained.
You may laugh and say that is impossible, that surely in three months it rained at least once. I shall counter with the fact that the only reason children could no longer push me in the mud was that there was no mud to push me in.
The land was brown, dull, and fading under my very eyes. I tried to keep the flowers at the back of our hut alive, but without rain they had no will to live. Ravigie was growing thin and sallow. Fewer children ran and yelled and played in the rutted roads; they were all at home, sinking into a thirsty starvation. No one washed themselves. That would have been a foolish waste of water.
It was near the end of my third month staying with Ravigie -- I had had no word from or of my mother in all that time -- when the children came.
I was collecting eggs. Egg. There was only one that day, and I gently took it out from under the younger of our two remaining chickens. I was cradling it in my dirt-caked palms when something clunked on the wall of the coop. I heard snickers, then another clunk. Wary, I pushed my hair behind an ear and peaked around the corner of the doorless opening to the coop. A rock zipped past; I felt the air being pushed around it as it almost hit my cheek.
"Devil's child!" screamed one of the kids.
"Black eyes!" yelled another. I squinted out into the sun. The people in the city had said this about my mother, but it had been in reverent whispers. What black eyes she has, they had said behind their leather gloves and feather fans. Like an inky, starless sky.
Another clunk. I narrowed my eyes, took a breath, and stepped outside. I could not let them trap me in that coop. A small rock hit me in the neck, then got caught in my tangled hair before falling to the ground with a soft plop. One of the children laughed, but they swallowed their humor as soon as I looked over.
"Go away," I said. The menace in my voice surprised even me, and the boy closest to me, the tallest and cleanest, sneered.
"We live here. You go away," he said.
This was the first moment I had ever really felt angry. I say it like this because it really was years before I truly discovered what that emotion was. What it was that make all the muscles in my entire body tense. What it was that made that egg fly out of my grasp and land with a satisfying cracksplickysplat in the face of that boy.
The boy was screaming, the children were screaming, Ravigie came out, yelling. There was so much noise, so much going on at a frenzied pace, that I had to close my eyes. But when I closed them, it got worse. Almost like the noise was louder. I opened my eyes again and saw something flicker at the end of my vision. Turning, I saw a garden of eggs on the ground.
The noise stopped.
"Geh," said someone.
"Are those...eggs?" said Ravigie. Her voice was choked and she tried to make her way over to me. I backed away, holding my hands out as if to fend her off. A child exclaimed.
I whirled around in a tight circle, looking for the eggs. It was true; they were gone. Vanished like the rain. Like my mother.