Nempnett Thrubwell. The name always made her smile. It had been the tiny village where she had grown up.
She had no idea of how she had come to be there or the circumstances by which the woman who brought her up acquired her from her insane mother. Would it do her any good to find out anyway? Probably not, she reasoned, so she would stop thinking about it.
Eliza was her name; she who nurtured and cared for Ele as if she was her own, but Ele called her Mama. She was unable to have children of her own and this was probably why she had wanted the little girl so badly.
Life in the village was idyllic. Ele had free reign to play with the local children, climb trees, splash about in the lake, play games and go scrumping for apples. Mama taught her to cook all kinds of wonderful dishes and they attended the church often, although even at this age Ele was not much interested in the pomp and ceremony of the priesthood. The village was near to two cities and there were trips to each of them on occasion to go to the markets there, most often to buy new dresses for Ele as she had a tendency to ruin clothes while on her various expeditions.
As with anything that seems good and perfect, it could not last. One day a messenger arrived with a letter for Mama. Ele hopped around her and tugged at her skirts trying to get a peek or to encourage her mama to read it to her. Instead her mama read it with a frown and became quite pale before folding it up tightly and storing it in her apron pocket.
She told Ele to go and pack her things, that they were to be going on a journey and that it would be long and take them far away from here. Ele burst into tears and begged her Mama for this not to be so but her Mama just petted her hair softly and shooed her on her way to pack.
The round and kindly face of her Mama changed into the hated face of her real mother again. The pale skin and slight smile that seemed to mock her.
“It was all your fault! Everything...all of it...you didn’t want to keep me yet you still could not bear for me to be happy. You...mother, I hate you!”
A voice came through the darkness, speaking calming words, trying to soothe her. Drops of liquid were dripped into her mouth and cold, wet rags were pressed to her head and arms. She slipped into darkness once more.