First light crept over the horizon that morning; the sun's warm fingers reaching across the fresh new sky, their rosy gloss pouring through the windows. All was near silent, only the occasional scratch of pen, the crackle of a turned page, or a bird, her faded singing heard from the nearby tree, celebrating the new day was but a whisper. It was the regular beginning of another passing day.
I arranged all through the familiar items--vials of certain healing waters, herbal ointments, books upon books upon books. There was little else in the small place which the Priestess Shantia kept, a few stray items of furniture to rest in, though I had never thought it restful for all the wooden chairs' hard edges and rigid shape that forced you to sit in a certain way. Though I should never complain. The two apprentices that we were were taught to never complain.
Seeing we were lacking in one particular item, I jotted it down neatly on the paper just within my reach. Shantia believed it necessary to make a list of needed things before market days, and make a list of what we did have to keep an inventory.
"I am finished, Shantia," I murmured, turning to the aging woman bent over her work, the other apprentice doing her daily reading at her side. Our master's thin, fragile form still remained focused on the page in which she wrote, as if she did not hear, thick grey hair falling about her tanned face, in appearnace almost like worn leather, and formed into a long braid down her back. Many times I had imagined Shantia was beautiful as a younger woman, with her exotic expression and deep, thoughtful eyes.
"You may go, then," Shantia made her reply in her steady, paced voice. "But do not stay long, we must prepare for Market."
I bowed my head slowly and made my way out of the small house. The air was crisp and fresh in my lungs, clearing my head. I walked through the trees at a brisk pace, my long legs stretching over the ground with something of ease. Breathing deeply, I smiled to myself. In a rush of light feeling, I jumped and swirled in the air, imagining to dance at Market with Vestina, our bodies twisting and turning in strange fashions as the crowd applauded and cheered. It was among my favored activites, dancing--it made me feel free. Free from the burdens and pressures of life, a chance to show who I was completely from the inside out.
Humming contentedly to myself, I found my way to my favorite spot. It had become a regular duty, a rather pleasurable one, to find my way to the river and do my meditation of sorts. The gentle song of the river was pleasing to my ear as I approached, a murmur calling me.
It was a small river, a silver ribbon weaving through the forest-scape. I knelt at its beach, carefully running my fingertips on the glassy damp surface. The water shivered at my touch, making something of circles before rushing away with the tide. I slowly turned my wrist, as if scooping at the air, and a perfect orb of water gathered just above my palm. Steadily, I tossed it from hand to hand, balancing it and forming it into certain shapes with my utmost focus. I had not the time to think of anything else.
After a moment, I released it, letting it drop back to the river with a splatter. I bent closer to the river's surface, looking at my wavering reflection. My narrow, pale face looked back at me, staring with wide, icy blue eyes. Who was I? I constantly wondered. Shantia did not have the answers, and those that she did were short. My mother was poor and alone, and had not the need for a daughter. Who was she? Shantia did not know. Was she not supposed to be knowing? What of her visions? Did she see nothing?
I was not a regular village girl, that was for certain. All I had was Vestina, the other apprentice, and Shantia, and our life mostly made of seculsion, when we were not praying with others. I splashed at my reflection, sending a million droplets, like broken starlight, through the air. I blinked and they froze, each with my reflection still remained, hanging in the air at my will. One by one I took my fingertip and popped the droplets like bubbles, sending them back to the river.
Looking to the sky, I stood. Shantia would most likely would wish for my return so that I may help her prepare to head to market. Cloing my eyes, I said my brief, daily prayer, and steadily made my way back to the one-room house which I called home, relishing in my own thoughts and daydreams for the time.