As I walk into my home, I hear my mother's sickly cough. A sound I've gotten used to over the past year. Silently, I prepare her medicine and feel a new hope. Miss Ramona worked wonders to get this, maybe it was what we needed. We wouldn't know until morning, however. So quickly, I stir the medicine into my mother's afternoon tea. A tea mixed with herbs donated to us by strangers in the effort to cure my mother. She smiles at me as I place the tea in her hand, but I can see the fear in her eyes. She's terrified of the illness that has its hold on her. No, that's not it, that look is at me.
"Mother?" I ask hesitantly.
"Twila... your skin, it's so cold... Even the air around you.... Please Lord Demonis, tell me I haven't passed this curse on to you!" She cries, grabbing my shoulders, which only brings more tears as they're just as cold as the hand that ever so carefully placed that cup in her hands. My mother knows nothing about the ability I have. An ability that keeps my body temperature at a solid zero degrees Fahrenheit. It also keep the air around me cool. Though, it gets warm when I'm distressed.
"I'm fine, Mother. Focus on yourself, please. You need to get better." I smile, and turn her TV on. She needs a distraction. I've kept my ability a secret from even her out of fear. My Father wouldn't have let me be taken away by the military dogs, but my Mother... she'd give me up in a heartbeat if it meant surviving Aqua Demonis' wrath.
I walk back outside, leaning against the outside wall of our home. I can feel something within me stirring. Moments ago I had thought it to be anxiety, but now it seemed to be trying to push through. I could feel my body getting colder as the air around me begins to condense. I can see it. It was if I was breathing when it got cold, but that made no sense as it's mid-summer! It only got colder, the ground beneath my feet even begins to frost over as well as the side of my house. I'm borderline screaming, which only causes more stress, causing me to stumble backwards. In an attempt to catch myself, I thrust a hand on the wall which, to my horror, begins to freeze the house.
"Calm down, Twila! Stay calm!" I shout at myself. It takes a few minutes, but I do regain my state of calmness, stopping the frost in its tracks. I've gotten used to my ability. I know by now what makes it work and what does the opposite. Though it's never come through like this. Though I conclude it's a product of exhaustion. I haven't had good sleep in days. It doesn't help that every time I try, my Mother's constant groaning of pain prevents it. With that Medicine, I'd be able to sleep with the door closed tonight, and that was a big relief. Maybe she wouldn't cry out in pain tonight at all.
"Twila, dear." I hear Miss Ramona approach. "Have you given your mother the medicine?" I nod. "Good, good. I've been thinking, little one. Maybe you should join the academy. They'd be able to teach you how to hone your ability. How to use it without... that happening." She says, pointing to the frozen mess beside my house.
"Miss Ramona... I can't. I'm all she has, she's all I have. I can't leave her here. Not like this." I protest.
"I know you can't. But did you ever think that maybe the cold air your body is producing.... just might be what is keeping her condition from curing? Constantly being in contact with cold air can't be good for sickness." I sigh. She has a point, and a good one at that.
"It's okay. That medicine you have her will work. And... if it does, and she gets better.... I'll think about the academy. I've heard things, though, Miss Ramona."
"Oh dear, come now, we've all heard those silly rumors. Nothing but, I'm sure. Our city may be crumbling, but it's not fallen that far." She says, but her words do not make it passed my ears. I've seen the faces of the graduates. Every year a ceremony is held for them, and the citizens, while not required to go, generally show up out of respect of our new soldiers. Their faces were always harsh, never was there one that was in the slightest bit warm. Always cold, so cold. And I never knew whether it was from determination or fear. Though, I was certain that it was fear. Because out of 550 graduates, not one so much as even smiled.
"Yeah, maybe. Miss Ramona... you saw their faces too. You know it's tough. I'm not cut out for that type of lifestyle." I disagree.
"Child, if there is anyone cut out for that lifestyle, it's you. You've got that heart of gold that's encased in frozen steel. You'll be alright." She soothes me, but I still don't believe her.
"Thank you, Miss Ramona." I begin, hugging her. "It's getting late though. I think I'm going to turn in early and get some well-needed rest." I release her from my grasp and walk up the steps and into my mother's room.
"Twila, dear, you should get some rest. And maybe... you should make yourself some of that tea. I'm really starting to feel better because of it, maybe it'll help you too." She smiles, though she sounds tired. She embraces me in a hug, wincing at the ice cold touch of my skin. Maybe she was right, I was starting to feel sick, but not sick like she was. Sick like I knew something bad was about to happen. Maybe I was catching her sickness. As to prevent it, I used the little bit we had of the medicine to make some tea. I sat in my mom's room watching T.V. with her until I finished it. The medicine made it taste rather sweet, which I enjoyed.
"I'm afraid I don't have long, Twila." She says to me, her head drooping.
"Mom, come on, you'll outlive all of us!" I laugh back, trying to lift her spirits.
"Twila, no. I can feel it coming. This medicine is only making it less painful." She smiles at me before placing a hand on my head. "I requested this myself, dear. It's a sleeping medication."
"No!" I shout, knowing now her full intention. "You... You tricked me!" I shout at her.
"Twila, no. It's my time, dear. I'm ready to go. And I knew you wouldn't be ready to let go. I love you with all my heart, and I want to make this as easy as possible for you. Miss Ramona said tonight was the night. I breathe no more in a matter of hours. I want to leave this assured that you're okay." She sighs, her breathing has become rough. I can feel the medicine beginning to work, my eyes feel heavy.
"I love you Mom." I sob as my vision fades.
I dream nothing but peace. My mother has gotten better and we're living happily in a recovered Stalaria. But I know this is fake. I wake as the world I've dreamed begins to shake in perfect rhythm with my body.
"The girl's awake!" I hear someone shout. I open my eyes and to my horror, my home is frozen solid. I feel the cold body next to me. I know in my heart what has happened. In my sorrow, my mind reacted in place of me, freezing everything. I look over to see my mother's face locked in a smile. I let several tears fall out before I remember the man whose shouts woke me. My house was being invaded. But by who?
"Hello?" I call out, afraid of who it might be. Times are rough in Stalaria and I very well could be facing someone with nothing to lose.
"Remain calm. We're here under order of Aqua Demonis." They shout at me. Oh no. I feel my heart shatter. Aqua Demonis' order has found me. And they weren't going to let me go.
"Twila Florentina. Pack your bags and prepare for relocation. Aqua Demonis has requested your presence at the academy."