I found Eliza curled up in her bed, on the morning before her birthday. She looked tired, but there was more than that hidden in her eyes. Although it seemed ridiculous to me at the time, sadness was what I saw in those misted eyes of hers.
I gently sat down on the edge of the bed, stroking her light brown hair.
“Have you been fighting with mum again?” I asked, gingerly touching the yellow-brown remains of a bruise upon the side of my cheek. Eliza too had many similar patterns decorating her arms and legs, following the wrath of our mother and father.
After a second, Eliza looked up at me, but her eyes were filled not with tears but with anger.
“No, it’s not that.”
“Well, you know that you can tell me...”
“It’s just...birthday jitters. You know, I’m excited and scared at the same time. Who knows what sorts of presents I’ll get for my sixteenth?”
Somehow, I gathered that that was not what she had been worrying about. The fear on her face was well concealed, but I’d known my outgoing, determined sister for years, and there was not much that we could hide from each other now.
“So...” I finally said, twiddling my thumbs awkwardly, “What do you think you’ll choose to be? An online survey says that women turning sixteen this month are more likely to choose a Fairy as their way of living.”
I nudged her playfully in the ribs.
“Evie, stop it!” she snapped, and I jumped back slightly, offended at her sharp tone. As sisters, we fought a lot, but the older Eliza had become, the sharper her actions and words had also become. I was worried that tomorrow she’d choose to join our parents and I would be pushed away. And in that they would forever delight. Of course, there were members of our extended family, others who had not themselves chosen the path of darkness, with whom I would be always welcome to stay, but it didn’t seem fair, in my opinion, for them to be burdened with my hardships.
“Look, just leave me alone. I have too much to think about before tomorrow,” she moaned, her expression becoming softer, more regretful again.
“Okay...” I smiled and lifted my slim figure off the bed.
Wandering to the door, my mind was sprinting, working as fast as it could to understand my baby sister and her mood. Tomorrow was meant to be a great day of self-discovery, but here Eliza was, sulking at something that I didn’t yet understand.
She can’t have been wondering about presents, that wasn’t Eliza’s style, and she wouldn’t have been looking forward to anything like a party (our parents never let us have those kinds of joyful celebrations), which left one thing to be that which she was fretting over.
What she chose to be would break this family forever.