Everything is as vivid in real life as it's been in my mind, the marketplace, the village rows, and especially the children, racing and circling as they holler and giggle in their games. I suddenly realise how displaced I am now, just the care I take in not letting too much dirt into my sandals reminds me that I'm not the little girl that would run half-naked through these streets when there was a water fight at the well.
The air is thick, not clear and cold like up on the mountain, laced with the smell of spices, fresh bread, and admittedly some other not-so pleasant substances in the streets. I grew up here for all of the life that I can remember, and though my mind spins with doubt about how crazy this is and how angry Akantha will be if she ever finds out, my feet move automatically through the thoroughfares, as if something deep within is calling me home.
As I travel, I keep my hood pulled forward to hide the glow of my skin. I catch my reflection at a market stall selling silverware, and realise that I'm different in appearance. I was always pale when the other villagers were more tanned, even when I was young, but now there's a pallor to me that I can't explain, as if I've been deprived of heliolatry, but given something much more...
Vendors call out to me as I pass, brandishing apples and bent gold for my perusal, attracted to my richly coloured cloak despite how plain it might be. I smile at them, trying to tell them that I would buy if I could, but as an apprentice, I have no drachma nor any need for it. I just continue on to where my home was last, and I recognise it from the blanket hanging over the doorway, one that Mother and I made together. It wasn't my best work, the stitching is muddled and out of place, it's barely possible to tell that the fish plashing around the edge isn't a silver dog. I duck under, and the familiar scent of home surrounds me. In the front of the house is our shop, Mother is a seamstress and that was our business, as well as a shoemaker before Thatty left. Dyed cloths hang around on strings that crisscross the pathway to the main table, stocked with the most beautiful and expensive spools and swatches. The air To the left is a door where I see parts of the kitchen, and stone stairs leading to the single bedroom that we shared.
Then, I see my mother.